Inventing Abstraction: 1910–1925 explores the advent of abstraction as both a historical idea and an emergent artistic practice.
František Kupka. Localization of Graphic Motifs II. 1912–13. Oil on canvas, 78 3/4 x 76 3/8″ (200 x 194 cm), frame: 78 3/4 x 76 3/8″ (200 x 194 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund and Gift of Jan and Meda Mladek. Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
In 1912, in several European cities, a handful of artists—Vasily Kandinsky, Frantisek Kupka, Francis Picabia, and Robert Delaunay—presented the first abstract pictures to the public. Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925 celebrates the centennial of this bold new type of artwork, tracing the development of abstraction as it moved through a network of modern artists, from Marsden Hartley and Marcel Duchamp to Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, sweeping across nations and across media. The exhibition brings together many of the most influential works in abstraction’s early history and covers a wide range of artistic production, including paintings, drawings, books, sculptures, films, photographs, sound poems, atonal music, and non-narrative dance, to draw a cross-media portrait of these watershed years.
Commemorating the centennial of the moment at which a series of artists invented abstraction, the exhibition brings together over 350 works in a broad range of mediums—including paintings, drawings, prints, books, sculptures, films, photographs, recordings, and dance pieces—to offer a sweeping survey of a radical moment when the rules of art making were fundamentally transformed. Half of the works in the exhibition, many of which have rarely been seen in the United States, come from major international public and private collectors. The exhibition is organized by Leah Dickerman, Curator, with Masha Chlenova, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.
A key premise of the exhibition is abstraction’s role as a cross-media practice from the start. This notion is illustrated through an exploration of the productive relationships between artists, composers, dancers, and poets in establishing a new modern language for the arts. Inventing Abstraction: 1910–1925 brings together works from a wide range of artistic mediums to draw a rich portrait of the watershed moment in which traditional art was wholly reinvented.
Available exclusively at MoMA, this publication accompanies the exhibition Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925 (December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013).
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