Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Untangling the Web in Which Abstract Art Began

“A painter, a composer, and a poet went on a road trip,” begins one print advertisement for the MoMA’s new exhibition Inventing Abstraction: 1910-1925. Although it sounds like the start of an artsy joke (“Two Abstract Expressionists walk into a bar…”), the punchline’s serious: “…and a new art form was born.” An immensely ambitious exhibition, Inventing Abstraction aims at no less than untangling the international web of associations and influences between artists across disciplines that resulted in the paradigm shift from realism to abstraction at the beginning of the 20th century. From a distance, understanding the inner workings of that network appears as daunting as the exhibition’s diagram above, but Inventing Abstraction will have you peering through the matrix to the surprising truth lurking beneath. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Untangling the Web in Which Abstract Art Began."

[Image: The invention of abstraction was not the inspiration of a solitary protagonist, but a relay of ideas that moved through a network of artists and intellectuals working in different countries and different media. This diagram maps the nexus of relationships among those artists represented in the exhibition Inventing Abstraction: 1910-1925, all of whom played a significant role in the development of a new modern language for the arts. Vectors connect individuals whose acquaintance with one another in the period 1910-1925 could be documented. The names in red represent those figures with the most number of connections within this group. The chart was a collaboration among the exhibition’s curatorial and design team and Paul Ingram, Kravis Professor of Business, and Mitali Banerjee, doctoral candidate, Columbia Business School. An interactive online version of this diagram can be found here.]
[Many thanks to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, for providing me with the image above and other press materials related to Inventing Abstraction: 1910-1925, which runs through April 15, 2013.]

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