Age of Abstraction 2.0?

Dr. Rinaldi's Horror Cabinet


“I always decide in favor of feeling rather than calculation.”

           – Kandinsky

As Hilton Kramer suggested in his rendition of the those modernist artists after 1913:

For both Mondrian and Kandinsky, the artistic base from which they made their fateful leap into abstraction was landscape painting, but their respective approaches to landscape were, again, very different. Whereas Mondrian’s was that of an ascetic determined to strip nature of its mutable attributes, Kandinsky’s was that of a mystical lyricist for whom nature is an enchanted realm of poetry and symbolism. Yet for both, the leap into abstraction was at once guided and sanctioned by their faith in the metaphysics of the occult, which in the end emancipated them from the mundanity of the observable world.1

This notion of the disappearance of Nature, the natural as introduced by Enlightenment philosophe’s and the rationalists before them as the mechanistic, and observable, objective…

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One thought on “Age of Abstraction 2.0?

  1. The ‘realism’ of the artist was never that of the scientist, even when their work drew on geometrical perspective, was colored by optics, and anatomically rendered. The pictorial plane never truly “represented.” What was suggested there has always been both more and other than the named subject, even when following conventional rules and stripped of other worldly intentions (see Hubert Damisch: A Theory of /Cloud/ for a case study of development of internal resistance to pictorial realism from Correggio to Cezanne).
    The moment an artist accepts what they know to be true–and let’s that realization influence what they do (even more so when meticulously following realist conventions, because the contradiction between the claim to representation, and the dependence on these conventions is all the more disturbing), there is likely to be a desire to deal with the fact of that contradiction–in the work itself. This is not a flight from reality–material or otherwise, but commitment to it. There is no art without the “meta.’ Naive realism simply chooses to let illusion stand for the real, without calling attention to it. I would go so far as to suggest that this contradiction, the failure of representation, is the generative engine that drives change. I think that can be said for abstract, ‘non-representational’ art as well, with the fault lying, not between the claim to a ‘subject’ that exists in the material world and the pure fabrication that is the art, in the failure to entirely reduce the aesthetic object to the picture plane, or surface form and matter of 3 dimensional works. There is just no way to exclude the viewer, who is no mere observer, but actively participates–enters the work and moves through it–creating something like a virtual reality that changes with every viewer, across cultures and spans of time.


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