Exhibition Spotlight: Inventing Abstraction
Inventing Abstraction at MoMA — It is one of the most notable genres of art. It is colorful, it is stark, it is feminine and phallic. But beyond the depth and nuance of abstract art, there is a spectacular history of interconnectedness that is the heart of New York’s MoMA Museum of Modern Art’s newest exhibition, Inventing Abstraction.
“Abstraction is not about solitary genius, it is the product of network thinking,” reads the exhibition’s welcome wall at the Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Gallery.
What follows is a spiderweb graphic of influencers that spearheaded the watershed movement. Inspired by the first public presentation of pieces in 1912 from European artists like Vasily Kandinsky, Frantisek Kupka and Robert Delaunay, the exhibition is a celebration of the genre’s centennial, but also a show of how similar these individuals were as artists and men.
“For this chart, we looked at their personal lives. We studied the parties they attended, every exhibition they had, who was there, who got in a fight with whom,” explains MoMA assistant Catherine Wheeler, who was involved in the exhibition. “It’s not generally the way you approach artists.”
As an art form that is defined, in simplest terms, as a departure from reality, MoMA‘s unconventional approach seems warranted. Indeed, during these artists’ lifetime, there was a collective drive toward creating something new that would parallel dramatic developments in technology, science, philosophy and culture.
“The exhibition is really a close look at this one decade. The watershed moment of a new form of art that was totally original, and totally cutting edge, and created the vocabulary for the art that we know today,” says Wheeler.
Whether it is Picasso‘s first and only attempt at abstraction, Woman with Mandolin, the colorful cacophony of Umberto Boccioni’s Dynamism of a Soccer Player, or Georgia O’Keefe’s uber-feminine tones, the exhibition paints a multi-layered portrait of abstract art from across the globe.
With paintings, drawings, books, sculptures, films, photographs, music and poems on display, visitors come away with a much stronger sense of this complex genre. To understand something, one must begin with its roots. With Inventing Abstraction, the MoMA has done just that.
Inventing Abstraction at MoMA opens December 23rd and runs until April 15th.
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