Page 1

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Abstract Painting FIFTY YEARS OF ACCOMPLISHMENT FROM KANDINSKY TO JACKSON POLLOCK

5^

r

TEXT BY MICHEL SEUPHOR


KANDINSKY

ERNST

LEGER

DELAUNAY

BRAQUE

PICASSO

MONDRIAN

POLLOCK

KLEE

KLINE

MIRO

DE

THE

WORK OF

painters is

KOONING

THESE and many other outstanding

who have created

engagingly and

our contemporary art

intelligently

discussed by an

eminent authority, Michel Seuphor. The various 'isms'

— Suprematism,

Dadaism,

Futurism, Rayonism, Purism,

mention a few

to

are described, their

manifestoes are quoted, and

and influence

of

the

contributions

each are pointed

out.

Seen

through Mr. Seuphor's eyes, the entire movement

seemingly

amateur Over

so

of art

100

complex

appears

and

in

color

provide the reader with a

and appreciation

to

the

to follow a pattern.

reproductions

masterpieces both

confusing

of

the

20th-century

and black-and-white fuller

understanding

of this art of our century.


ALSO AVAILABLE

IN

LAUREL EDITIONS

ART TREASURES OF THE LOUVRE by Rene Huyghe

MODERN AMERICAN PAINTING AND SCULPTURE by

Sam

Hunter

MODERN FRENCH PAINTING by

Sam

Hunter


Abstract Painting 50

YEARS OF

ACCOMPLISHMENT,

FROM KANDINSKY TO THE PRESENT TEXT BY MICHEL SEUPHOR A

LAUREL

*

EDITION


Published by

DELL PUBLISHING CO., INC. 750 Third Avenue

New York

17, N.Y.

Library of Congress Catalog

TM674623,

Laurel (R) All rights

Card Number; 61-15924

Dell Publishing Co., Inc.

reserved

Translated from the French by

No

part of the contents of this

Haakon Chevalier work may be reproduced

without the written permission of Harry N. Abrams,

Inc.,

New York First Dell Printing

Printed

in

1964

Holland

Smeets Photo-offset Weert Holland


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The successful creation of an artbook must have the close

and author.

collaboration of publisher, printer,

This

is

basic.

But a book which deals exclusively with contemporary art

depends more than most on the friendly cooperation of private collectors, museums of modern art, and art dealers. Thus,

am

I

Particularly

I

so willingly

want

to

thank

in

AA.

Hagenbach, Mr. John Craven, Peissi,

the

my gratitude to all those my complex undertaking.

anxious to convey here

who have helped

M. Jacques Putman,

Musee National

d'Art

all

Frangois Arp,

Mme

of Paris.

Moderne,

Mime

Arp-

J.

G. Dupin, M. Pierre I

am much

Paris,

ing Parisian galleries: Ariel, Charpentier,

and

obliged to

to the follow-

Claude Bernard,

Creuze, Denise Rene, Creuzevault, Daniel Cordier, Drouin,

Dubourg, Europe Philadelphie, Massol

Carre, Louise Galanis,

Flinker,

de France, Jacques

Jeanne Bucher, Kleber, Knoedler, Leiris,

XXeme

Maeght,

Siecle,

La Hune, Louis

Pierre, Rive-Droite, Villand

and the Galerie Internationale

Contemporain. Thanks go also

to Mr.

and Mrs. Burton

and

d'Art

G. Tre-


maine

of Meriden, Connecticut; to Mrs.

and Mrs. Henry

Mr.

to

and Mrs.

Arthur Lejwa,

Mrs.

Silvia

Markus

A.

and Mrs. Herbert M. Rothschild and Mrs. Harry

Mr.

to

igan;

to

Solomon of

of

Chicago;

and Sidney

New York; to the Philadelphia Museum of following New York galleries: Andre Emmerich, Martha Jackson,

Janis; to the Esther Robles Gallery

Staatliche

Kunsthalle

the Galerie Otto Stangl

Musee

d'Art

in

Moderne

land Penrose and Mr. ry,

Museum

in

Karlsruhe;

E. J.

Munich; the

the

in

Print

Sons, Gimpel

Power

and

fils,

and Schwarz

In

Basel.

and

Otterlo.

In

the Galerie I

Stddtisches in

Room

Cologne;

in

Vienna;

of London; the Tate Galleart:

Arthur Tooth

art galleries:

&

Cardazzo, Loren-

Holland, the Stedelijk

sterdam; Gemeentemuseum,

Museum,

of Krefeld;

Lord's. In Milan, the Galleria d'Arte

Moderna, and the following

Lutry;

Ange-

Brussels. In England, to Mr. Ro-

London; and the London galleries of

zelli,

Los

in

Europe, to Dr. Wolfgang Macke; to the Stadtische

Kunsthaus of Bielefeld; the Galerie Der Spiegel

the

York;

in

Galerie of Munich; the Kaiser Wilhelm the

Mr.

Museum of Modern Art, New York; to the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum

and the

In

to

New

of Ossining,

and

York;

Winston of Birmingham, Mich-

L.

Betty Parsons, Leo Castelli, Chalette, Kootz,

les.

Dr.

New

of

the R.

American Art

Art;

Kay Hillman, Pizitz

Museum, Am-

The Hague; the Kroller-Muller

Switzerland, M. Alberto Sartoris of

Lienhard,

Zurich; the Galerie

Beyeler,

must also mention the courtesies of many

artists

close relatives of artists.

Especially

I

would

Ben Duijvelshoff,

like to

for his

thank the designer of the book,

devoted attention

to

every detail

of the presentation.

M.S


PART ONE Before 1915

Our twentieth-century world, with advances and

scientific

century which

its

swift technological

socio-economic

upheavals, our

has witnessed the rapid shrinking of the

was obligated

world's dimensions,

to give

children an art

its

which reflected these changes. Yet today the average in

may

the street (who

glance

art as a visual experience

sees abstract

still

and mental challenge

that

is

both

—

a form of art at times both

and aggressive, and

at other times meaningless or

and

revolutionary irritating

man

occasionally be led to cast a casual

the direction of artistic creation)

in

and

startling

merely innocuous and inoffensive.

We

know, of course, how

disconcerting such impressions can be. But the experienced

observer, with his practiced eye, has an altogether different perspective;

him

for

surprises

manifests

nothing

related,

are

everything

rare,

which

itself

foreshadowed. Yet the fact remains that the

has

artistic

evolution

peculiar to each century, to each generation (and to

each

original

truly

nevertheless

occur

prognostications.

contrary

For

movement may be

artist),

may cause

falter,

and even,

well

known

how

Balzac and

fact

the

most

clearsighted

to us,

any move

is

composed

which are unforeseeable and

the movement's direction to swerve, to

for a time, to

of this uncertainty there

no matter

to

in

such that developments

while the general direction of the

of a host of small accidents,

which

is

is

been

not

close

and

is

change

its

course. Because

a certain element of surprise,

attentive the witness

may

Baudelaire prophesied abstract art

writings; the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists,

be. in

their

and Fauves


celebrated

what he preached. The Cubists

practiced

ventured

new

into this

their

to

return to

much

— was

be Delaunay

appears

so

immense

not to belong to the

however great; they sensed the emptiness. The

seemed

renunciation of figurative art

and they had

too

the traditional values. Thus

first

to

Braque and Picasso never

later;

a kind of promised land

their youth, in

at last resolutely

names happened

their

if

it,

only

Villon,

Cubists,

them

but despite the brilliance

territory,

returned. No, this territory which today

—

of

works they immediately drew back. They were

of

or

bold words, although apparently without

in

it

knowing what they were saying, since none

quite

staked out the

AAondrian

was

new

forty

it

territory

1912,

in

many was

still

to

discover

the older painters

and

Kupka

mortally imperil

to

flavors

settled there for

forty-one,

who

good:

and Kandinsky

forty-six.

Since

its

beginnings

1912, the multiplicity of forms of

in

expression has been one of the most singular characteristics of abstract painting.

and

the

When we measure the distance traveled

enormous present-day expansion

of this art

then go back to the tiny core of artists working discover, not

withoutamazement, that

were already present

at the start

Kupka, Kandinsky, and horizontal-vertical style

in

can be found

Kandinsky's work at

this

period,

in

is

and wisdom

in

in

certain canvases

the very essence of

and some

of these early if

they had

1960. Finally Delaunay contributed order

a style rich with a kind of inner vibration.

his paintings, light

is

composed

rather

like

of required

In

a well-balanced

musical work, to which the painter accords

amount

of

rectangular and

paintings could be called tochiste or nonformal

been painted

we

combined works

Delaunay. The

of Kupka's of 1912; lyric effusiveness

and

1912

the basic elements

all

the

in

just

the right

warmth, without ever being carried


away

or

of this

men,

dominated by period, one

first

reached a

art

Before such accomplished works

it.

tempted

is

say that, with these

to

rather than

destination

point of

a

departure. This statement, however, would overlook the uncontrollable factor of each

and

individual

unpre-

the

had yet

dictable scope of his work. The art of the century find

to

there

itself,

was

a

universal form to develop, there the

a

work

to face, a faith in their

necessary

was

a need to

overcome

opposition of traditionalist circles, there

violent

war

be created and a

to

style

what was

create history with

to

to affirm. In short,

it

was was

yet contained

within the seed.

What

seed of 1912 contained was going

this

throughout the world and

manifest both

to

its

spread

to

revolutionary

character (as a wrenching loose from the naturalism of the last century)

and the fundamental outgiving belonged

nature. This multiplicity itself century:

modern man, even more than man

Montaigne,

"changeable and diverse."

is

unconstrained, nothing

the richness of the

spirit,

repellent to

so

is

of attitudes. This multiplicity it

is

is

above

of

its

multiple

to the spirit of the in If

the

he

him as

age is

rigidity

an expression of

all

passionate, and at the

time open and flexible, having nothing

of

truly

common

in

same

with the

eclecticism of the blase collector or the dilletante aesthete. It is

a sign of love, of overflowing abundance.

At the root of of reality, a

values

it

this multiplicity

specific

there

is

conception of existence and of the

contains. Matisse once said,

sensibility of a period of civilization.

our production, self-evident. sensibility

—

it

The

is

a certain conception

imposed upon

difficulty

begins

"We

We

are born with the

are not masters of

us." This at

when we

a sensibility peculiar to

inevitably determines our selves. For

once appears

try to

define

this

our epoch and which

we

soon discover that


many

there are as

When

artists.

Delaunay,

is

Kandinsky,

the

Miro,

styles

as there are great

Mondrian, Arp,

of

Schwitters,

Herbin,

Ernst,

and Matisse, the only common denominator

Picasso, find

distinct sensibilities

compare

I

nineteenth

can

I

the

into

fit

hangs, remains. But against

it

within

or

to

The painting's frame, or the back-

century.

ground on which ground,

made

none of them can be

that

frame,

this

back-

this

remains

individualism

dominant, perhaps more so today than ever before.

As early as 1909, the Cubist painters destroyed the object

and reconstructed

into

in

it

a different way, improvising freely

means and without

with pictorial

account.

In

so doing, they implicitly discovered the

uselessness of the object and, to

be the

first

Their logic object,

a

in

fact,

proved themselves,

creators of abstract painting.

was

such that they did not entirely repudiate the

even though they refused

to

be dominated by

consequence, no holds were barred

match,

this

in

game

became the

technique

pictorial

we know,

in

new love-game between

painting as such, a

as

taking objective reality

itself.

The opposite

is

important;

no effort

viewer

to

to

painting,

10

a

in

giving the retina.

The

over the "what."

(in

nudes and the

still

the latter's great period)

lifes

make

be recognizable as such. These works ask the consider

only

and they ask him

these elements. As a

"why."

but

remain a landscape, the ideal

to

true of Cubism. The

by Braque and Picasso

and

With the Impressionists, less

painting being the one that would succeed

priority

wrestling

the object

viewer the direct impressions of the painter's

"how" never had

As

which the actual object soon

was no

technique

landscape always had

in

this

it.

the

elements

of

to derive his sole

result, the

"what"

is

painting

as

enjoyment from

absorbed by the


Even more than the destruction of the object, the desire

from simple

construct,

rectilinear nature,

Constructivism

canvases.

and

All

pictorial

manifest

is

very

is

relationships of the

dations of For the

We

lines.

to

thus

in

their

enlarge the

to

detail,

magnification the tension and the

concept

who was

AAondrian,

and

foreshadowed

was needed was

that

this

the Cubists,

all

clearly

to discover in this

importance

in

to

elements of a generally

shall

see, further on, the

assumed

relationships

of

make

it

for

one of the essential foun-

his logic.

moment we

shall limit ourselves to noting that there

was, between 1906 and 1914, a widespread simultaneity of discovery throughout Europe,

well as

in

atmosphere little

in

the realm of thought as

that of the plastic arts of

Something had

its

nouveou.

when

beginning

his studio at twilight

poetry, a general

which Guillaume Apollinaire, a

to

birth

later, entitled I'esprit

and

Kandinsky, returning to

one day, was surprised

to

see a canvas

"of an indescribable and incandescent beauty" which he did not at once recognize as his own,

placed on

Kupka,

in

its

because

it

had been

beginning when

its

the course of a walk, apologized to nature for

having attempted

copy

to

had

something

again;

something had

side;

it

and promised

published the "Manifesto of Futurism"

something had

its

when

beginning

in

not to

when

beginning

its

do so

AAarinetti

Le Figaro

in

AAondrian wrote

1909; in

his

sketchbook: "The surface of things gives enjoyment, their interiority

gives

life";

something had

Robert Delaunay painted City,

which allowed

his

light to

first

break

its

beginning when

Window Open on into the

canvas with

entire

range of the spectrum; something had

when

in

to

New

1913, AAarcel

York

to

Duchamp and

its

art

its

beginning

Francis Picabia

preach the gospel of a new

the

went

and were


the great attraction of the

beginning

when

Armory Show; something had

weary

Brancusi,

of

its

"making corpses,"

conceived the Sleeping Muse, which was gradually

to

become transformed into a simple ovoid; something had beginning when there was nothing. was then that Kandinsky, in Munich, uttered the wellknown words: "Everything is permitted" (alles ist erlaubt). its It

In

1961,

we

by

live

still

heritage, which

this

truth

in

is

inexhaustible.

The year 1912

will

art of this century.

was

learning from

days of 191

1.

always remain the turning point

Cubism was it

in Paris,

at

its

where he had come

He soon went beyond

works, although

still

it

in

the last

and through

his first

Cubist, arrived at his Neo-Plastic

and the

of the right angle. In February, Severini

exhibited at Bernheim's.

among

ents,

could AAarcel

be

Delaunay's

to

time. In

law

Futurists

at the Salon des Independ-

In April,

new magnitudes

painting,

of

there

Simultaneous Windows and

Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase.

beginning first

other

seen

for the

apogee, and Mondrian

be recognized, exhibited

in

Gris, just

the Salon for the

March, Gleizes and Metzinger published Du

Cubisme. October saw the

first

show

of the Sect/on d'Or

("The Golden Section") at the Galerie de

la

Boetie, with

more than two hundred works, among which were

Picabia's

Les danseuses a la source (The Dancers at the Fountain)

and a

series of wholly abstract

with the paintings of nearly of course, the three

all

Duchamp

works by Kupka together

the other Cubists including,

brothers

who

initiated this

enormous undertaking. At the Salon d'Automne, Kupka exhibited his Fugue a

deux couleurs (Fugue

in

and Chromatique chaude (Warm Chromatic

Two

Colors)

Scale),

and

also Duchamp-Villon's frontal plan for the "Cubist house." 12


> 1

Morgan

Russell • Sketch

from a Notebook

1912

13


In

Munich, Kandinsky published

das Geistige

in

work, Uber

his theoretical

der Kunst (On the Spiritual

in Art)

which

Almanach and the exhibitions by the group. Finally, Berlin saw the first exhibits of

cast light upon the

Blaue Reiter

named

the Der Sturm Gallery,

championed art also)

for the

that

the cause of Expressionism (later for abstract

which Walden had been editing since 1910.

the gallery's exhibitors, during

found

famous review

names new

Among

months, were

Braque,

Berlin:

to

first

its

Picasso,

to

be

Herbin,

Delaunay, Arp, Reth, Severini, and Archipenko, together with

more

familiar

names

Berliners:

to

Kokoschka, Jaw-

lensky, Kandinsky,

Marc, and Campendonck.

the arts the time

was

Two years

later, at

In

the realm of

and no war threatened.

propitious,

the very outbreak of the

First

World War

(which put an abrupt stop to those brotherly associations

and exchanges) the Sturm Gallery exhibited the works of Gleizes, Metzinger, Villon, Duchamp-Villon,

and Marc

Chagall.

Delaunay and Leger introduced bright color grayness, the former by his

contrasting forms. Previous to

Apollinaire

in

the lead.

Tower symbolizes the its

the

grace:

groom and

same symbol.

having glorified the

It,

is

generation of poets, with

needed

its

portraitist.

The

and at the same time abundance and charm in

of Paris,

bridal veil,

We owe

Delaunay our blessings

for

Tower as early as 1910, as well

and must be

it

to bits, so

as to prove

free.

The Tower keeps reappearing 14

set

Eiffel

too,

virility

Eiffel

Delaunay had

new

as for having immediately broken that painting

Cubist

by academic poets, was

reviled

suddenly acclaimed by a

this,

and drawing the

himself with passion to painting

Tower. The Tower, so

into the

his swirling rhythms, the latter by

in

Delaunay's painting, whole


and

many

in

fragments. At times

suggested, as a mere grid of

its

presence

lines

in

only faintly

is

the middle of an

abstract composition.

However,

the

is

it

circular

together with

rhythms,

the

effects of simultaneous contrast, that are strikingly important in

Delaunay's work. Beyond a doubt, for the

history of art, color

displayed for

is

and vibrates

the sake of singing,

its

own

confused notes on painting, Delaunay to Seurat,

employ

and how he

it

in

the

sings for

for the sake of vibrating,

without the slightest naturalist context.

debt

time

first

sake:

differs

his

In

tries to

from the

sometimes explain

his

who

Divisionists

color contrasts to intensify the vision of nature for

the viewer. To him the law of complementaries serves as

both the foundation and the object of point

more

his art.

Delaunay enlarges,

explicit,

to

To

make

this

unprecedented

dimensions, the motifs that had been subordinated by the Divisionists. In

seemed and

to

much

same way the earliest

the

Constructivists

be amplifying fragments of paintings by Braque

Picasso.

The painting of

light

having become an end

in

itself,

grasp why Delaunay was so attracted by the solar

works are

full

of allusions to celestial events. There

painting at once so close to poetry

painting" as Delaunay's. Nor

cosmic

in

We

conception.

Apollinaire should have

been Delaunay's

art

is

and

dubbed

I

there any painting

it

"Orphic."

love light

above

It

in

France, that

subject, but

is,

of

first

an

no

more

It

may well have

to declare: "I love all else.

who invented fire, loves light above all else." was Apollinaire, too, who said that Delaunay's rhythms were "the

is

much "pure

can hardly be surprised that

which inspired him

the art of today because

yet so

we

disk. His

For

man,

swirling

manifestation of non-objective art art

proceeding not from an external

from an internal subject." 15


Sonia Delaunay followed her husband's painting and ideas

more

very closely, is

like

a colleague than a disciple, and

proved by her well-accomplished works such as

Prisms (1914) and 8a/ Bullier

Fernand

Leger's

(1

91

3).

forms

contrasting

this

Electric

of

and

1913

1914

introduced into the Cubist climate an element of lightness

and

which

improvisation

of

had not yet known.

it

His

treatment was altogether sketchy, the surface only partly

was was a

covered, yet no one could deny that the canvas filled

and

animated.

prodigiously

supple form of pure painting,

According

pations.

AAontjoy

in

191

a

to

expression

of

rich with

made

statement

for a

few

all

of

whose

very

by Leger

in

not a passing

"is

initiates,"

but "the total

new generation whose

a

experiences and to

well-

far-reaching antici-

conception of painting

3, this

good only

abstraction,

Leger's

necessities

aspirations

it

it

constitutes

a response."

we know,

As

Leger soon abandoned

of heavier painting into which,

—

the

human

but

whose contours were

figure

these problems,

favor

a figure sketchily drawn, to be sure, singularly soft. Yet the problems

of abstract painting continued to to

this direction in

about 1921, he introduced

in

absorb him. He returned

a series of mural paintings done

1924, visibly influenced by Mondrian.

I

was

in

seeing a good

deal of Leger during those years, and he would question

me

time and again about AAondrian. While these questions

betrayed

a

conversation

certain

with

he would

anxiety,

some quip

to

the

usually

end the

effect that "These

Northerners always carry things too far." never contradicted I

him. But is

to

it

has since become clear

me how

important

carry things too far. The world would stand

no one ventured beyond the small advances as 16

to

we make,

limits

still

it

if

of the familiar. Such

despite the inertia that holds


2

Georges Braque

Woman

Reading

• 191

1


and Pipe

3

Georges Braque

4

Pablo Picasso • Bottle, Glass, and Violin

• Violin

• 191 2

1912-13


5

Robert Delaunay • Simultaneous Disk •

6

Juan Gris

• Still Life with

^

1

91 2

Pears* 1913


7

Robert Delaunay • Circular Forms • 1912-13 20


Sonia Delaunay • Electric Prisms • 1914

21


9

Michel Larionov • Rayonism • 191

Giacomo

Balla • Little Girl

1

Running on a Balcony

mm-

1

91 2


ma i

i

7 1

Marcel

Duchamp

•

Nude Descending a

Staircase

No 2*1912


2

13

Jacques

Piet

Villon • Soldiers

Mondrian

on the March

Apple Trees

in

Bloom

1913

1912


Fi-

4&*

4

Piet

AAondrian • Composition •

1

25

91 4


15

Wassily Kandinsky • Deluge

16

Wassily Kandinsky • All Saints' Day •

I

1912

c.

1910-1

1


1

7

Wassily Kandinsky • With the Black Arch •

1

27

91 2


18

Frank Kupka • Arrangement

19

Frank Kupka • Disks • 1911-12

in

Yellow Verticals • 1912-13


v

S4;

.^K?

20

Fernand Leger

• Contrast of

Forms

1

91 3

29


21

Stanton Macdonald-Wright • Synchromy • 1914

30


22

23

KasimirMalevich •The Guard* 1912-14

Kasimir Malevich •

Supreme

• Before

1915


Rubber

1909

24

Francis Picabia •

25

Paul Klee •Abstraction • 1914


we owe — who do

back,

us

individual

—

few

the

to

sometimes

lone

a

to

not hesitate to go too far.

To

many young

painters today, Mondrian appears a model

of

restraint.

sense

nostalgia

something

1945,

in

"Of the various

which he wrote:

in

plastic orientations

twenty-five years, abstract art

most is

it

interesting.

an

itself,

is

art

is

developed over the past the most important, the

by no means an experimental

It is

which has value

in

the future will

among porodis artificiels, but do not think dominated by that same desire for perfection and

total

it

It

is

produced

has

that

lies in

of achieving. The

the very elevation of

contrasts, objects

its

danger

intentions.

Add

spaces, without depth.

—

sharp.

thin, rigid,

Robespierre would

Reason.

It

saints,

is

its

to this a

It

is

lines;

and

its

against

this

light,

it

to

drape

his

goddess,

Modern

heretics.

life,

luminous,

delicate

I

fact.

like this lucid text

time he wrote

it

American period

and

Leger is

had

It

I

to be,

it is

It

has

with

of contrasts,

full

its

beats

structure,

which emerges coldly from the chaos. Do not touch

an accomplished

blank

respect for the vertical

a religion that cannot be argued about. disciples,

p jre

a true, incorruptible purism.

have used

speed and tumult, dynamic and furiously

of this

Modelings,

have disappeared, leaving only very

very precise relations, and a few colors, a few

plane

and

heroes,

saints,

for

an extreme state which only a few creators

and admirers are capable formula

so.

I

liberation

madmen.

its

curiosity;

which has realized

itself,

and which answers a need.... Perhaps

classify It

an echo of vague

like

the notes on abstract art that Leger published

in

Montreal

in

I

it,

it

is

there to stay."

cannot help thinking that at the

was somewhat behind

undoubtedly

his

his

time

(his

least successful).

In

33


1913/1914 with

vanguard

of the

contrasting forms he was in the verymodern movement, together with Delaunay his

and Mondrian himself (whom he seems

not to have

known

personally).

The arrival of the

enormous breath

Futurists

of fresh

upon the scene was

air. All their

an

like

revolutionary ideas

radiated from their central preoccupation, spatial dynamism.

There

is

nothing absurd

the realm of art

in

and

the Futurists,

before the Dadaists, were not far from creating an art of

and introduce movement

the absurd. To try

a hazardous undertaking, to say the

achieved

it,

look at the

made

they

into painting

And

least.

everything move. Today,

works created by Severini,

Balla,

is

yet they

when we

and Boccioni

between 1912 and 1914, we perceive that the sense-less has produced masterpieces. Once again, defiance proved to

be wisdom, while the "wisdom"

later

dedicated themselves led

which certain

Futurists

dead end. am

thinking

to

to a

I

of Severini's disordered career, of Carrd's,

and

an even more disappointing case. The course

of Soffici's, of art

is full

painters.

They

of such paradoxes.

But

the

Futurists

advocated sought activities

were

publicity

abstract

rarely

political action,

through

engaged noisy

were hardly conducive

in

public debate,

demonstrations.

and Such

to the cultivation of that

inner vision, of that undivided attention given to the act of

painting

—

and

the

of

technical

required by abstract painting both

our own was double-edged;

means

of

expression

beginnings and

in its

in

time. The Futurists' revolt against everything static

innovations art.

and

it

it

propelled

them

created an amazing

into

stir in

admirable

the world of

But too often they remained merely anecdotal painters: this

congenital, essentially literary failing caused the

movement 34

and

to

culminate

in

the aeropittura futurista, which


— by 1930 was nothing more than wholly academic passeiste painting

use the word coined by AAarinetti to designate

(to

was the flourish

the enemies of Futurism). All that remained

declamatory gestures suitable

a set of But

we

are

tribute

still

in

the period before 1914,

the works

to

for every occasion.

whose importance has perhaps

pioneers,

measured.

I

am

and we must pay

being created at that time by the

been

not yet

especially of Severini's

thinking

fully

Dance

Rhythms, Dynamic Hieroglyphic of the Bal Tabarin (1912),

and

Donee of

his

the

Tom-Tom

ot the

painting which has been

lost.

by a

paintings

single

jagged,

rhythm,

jolting

lines,

in

and

The painter treats

to flood

his

composed

tantalizes

it,

it,

loses

and

It

it,

jazz,

who

whose

plays a melody,

and again recovers

was signed by

Severini,

and behind

from moment to moment," our eyes, but

to

appearing. Given the objects

in

it

is

it

it.

Boccioni, Carra, Russolo,

could be sensed AAarinetti's

and

their

like

A

multiply,

Futurist painters in

on

a

dis-

become deformed, in

the space

running horse has twenty legs,

movements are

influence

and

image on the

hurried vibrations

triangular." This kind of

writing, so typical of the first manifestos,

liberating

transformed

"An outline never remains

persistence of the

through which they pass not four,

states.

is

constantly appearing

movement

and chase one another,

placed

of

entirely

themes, which are basically very

poetic inspiration. "Everything moves, evolves,

retina,

a big

1910, the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting

In April,

had appeared.

static

1),

Europe only a few years

simple, exactly as a jazz musician distorts

(191

see crowds swept

the brightest, most clashing

in

syncopated rhythms were

Bal la,

Mon/co

we

They are a kind of prefiguration of

colors.

later.

Here,

had a powerfully

whole generation. When the

declared that the viewer

is

front of the painting but inside

no longer it,

I

to

be

think they 35


meant

not only that the

same

indivisible

canvas and the viewer share the

space,

participate fully

but

creative enthusiasm. Actually,

and especially

this

—

work a

without

"calm love" that

ment, then communicates giving the

what would be

abstract art

of

sympathy, without

they expected

that

him

to

the painter's work through a similarly

in

power

lasting

first

attachment,

this

of art

left

—

mysterious

this

creates attach-

thereby

to others,

that finally passes into

history.

we

Arriving at the point of view of pure abstraction,

were both

that the Futurists

from

it

than the Cubists. This

was much broader, and on

fed

everything,

is

because

Certain

everything.

his

such

paintings

as

of

girl" or

attacked Severini's

"dance,"

pasted papers of the

period (Geometric Portrait of Crovan,

are

perceive

removed

their field of action

although called "dancing

Divisionist works,

same

farther

their antitraditionalism

are wholly abstract, as are also

too,

and

closer to

1

91

2).

Abstract,

Centrifugal

Carrd's

Forces

Dynamism of a Human Body (1913), and Moods (1914). But these "incunabulae" of

(1912), Boccioni's Balla's

Forms of

abstract painting are, the Futurists

was

to

in

a sense, accidents. The purpose of

plunge

their art into

to

that

was sheer

participation

is

habit. This will to action

the indelible seal that

Though one would hardly guess his

painting

held

the

sensitive

and the calmness

Futurists to

the

in

high

slightest

capacity for enthusiasm than

his

AAondrian 36

life,

into the street,

break up everything that was stagnant, everything

and

critical

was

sense,

it

from the

of

this

sensory

their works.

static quality of

Marinetti,

who was

approval and whose

was much more had

all

of his spirit, Piet AAondrian

esteem. sign

and

marks

highly developed

immediately decreed that

"the greatest Futurist painter of the North."


But its

what Mondrian admired

painting as

its

trying to create

in

was

Futurism

not so

climate of liberation from the past art

in

and

in life.

much it

was

His natural placidity did

not exclude an obscure resentment against the slowness

moves and against

with which the world

the sluggishness

war of movement was own war of attrition.

of certain intellectuals. The Futurists'

complement

the strategic This

of his

unshakable position which was

years,

to

was being consolidated during

years that the Futurists were galloping fiends

loose, clearing

let

measured steps

an immense

be

his for so

1912/14, the in all

field

many same

directions like

before the very

of the future creator of Neo-Plasticism. The

had swarmed from the south (somewhat

Futurists

Renaissance condottieri) counting on lightning

like

tactics to

take possession of Paris; Mondrian, coming from Holland, forever on the defensive against the sea, partly

pushed back by

barely to stay

in

make

Paris,

his

dint

of

and which

it

has

immense patience, was

presence known

in

and made hardly more

the course of his

of a

stir

when

first

later

on

he lived and worked there for twenty years. His painting

the two

underwent a profound transformation during

and a

never one

half years of his first stay

to resort to shortcuts:

in Paris.

But he

was

Mondrian's pace allowed

neither a leap forward nor a stepping aside nor the slightest distraction.

ahead

He moved

surely, without letting his

work get

ahead of the work. was by small steps. All his life he was to worry as to whether the last canvas was an improvement on the preceding one. He was so obsessed But

of his ideas, nor the ideas get

advance he

did,

even though

it

by the idea of going further, even further, that he

was tempted

to

still

a

little

regard as negligible, even

further,

to reject

as unpardonable errors, the achievements of the previous stage. But for him,

1912 was also an eventful year. That 37


year he painted the two versions of the

Ginger

Appletree

Pot, the

in

Life

Still

with

Bloom (Gemeentemuseum, The

Hague), as well as the admirable abstract composition curved

a

with

lines

vertical lines entitled Trees

Composition No.

1

horizontal-vertical it

also does

Museum), various studio which the

in

theme appears more and more two very

in

in

horizontal-

of

Bloom, the gray and ochre

in

(Kroller-Muller

on the subject of the tree

improvisations

as

1

background

discreet

clearly,

subdued

fine paintings with

Nude and Feminine Figure. This simple rhythmic theme becomes more explicit in 1913, and finally crystallizes in the paintings and drawings of 1914 and 1915. highlights entitled

In

1913 Mondrian painted the Composition

gray and ochre

(Stedelijk

Museum

in

in

the Oval

Amsterdam)

in

the great

Guggenheim Museum in New York, the blue-gray canvas in the Kroller-Muller Museum, and a remarkable oval composition (Museum of Modern Art in golden canvas

New

York)

short

in

the

which the very short curved strokes and three

in

diagonals create a harmonious balance with the

horizontal

and

vertical lines, the

ground of discreet colors In

the

1914,

accentuated

in

set against a back-

which white dominates.

horizontal-vertical in

whole

Composition

///

theme became (Stedelijk

strongly

Museum) and

in

numerous compositions most of which are called "Facades"

and which tend toward monochrome late the

same

year,

gray. Back

in

Holland

Mondrian executed a great number

of

large drawings (sometimes incorrectly dated 1912) which

are abstracts of the facade of the church of Domburg, or of trees, or of the sea at Scheveningen entitled The

drawn

in

Paris,

all

these themes finally converge,

abstract compositions of 1916 and

consummate example 38

(the last generally

Seo or Pier and Ocean). With the "scaffoldings"

is

the

1917, of

in

the

which the most

black-and-white

painting,


Composition with Lines, which

now

is

in

the Kroller-Muller

Museum. It

should be noted that the rhythm of the short horizontal

and

had been emphasized as early as 1910

vertical lines

numerous works by Braque and

Braque's delicate engravings between

being

owes

1912. AAondrian also of these is

to

1910 and

the use of the oval to the

two Cubist masters. A remark attributed

very pertinent here: "Thanks to the oval," he

have

said,

horizontal

is

example

to

Braque

supposed

have discovered the meaning of the

"I

and

in

Picasso, not least of these

the vertical." The attraction which the oval

exerted on the Cubists and on AAondrian can be easily

understood:

presence of the curved

the

line

makes

it

possible, by opposition, to accentuate the straight lines. The

closed form induces a sounding of the

infinite.

combined

But this undeniable influence of the Cubists

very special

shaping is

a

in

way

with a tendency which

AAondrian's mind.

jotting

which,

to

is,

before

from

judge

his first trip to

which suggests that

produced the

first

it

was

a

had long been

one of the notebooks there

In

drawings, must date from one of (that

in

accompanying

the

his last stays in

Paris)

in

Domburg

1910 or 1911, and

the observation of the sea that

crystallization of the horizontal-vertical

theme. Beneath a very

explicit

drawing

we

read these

words: "Masculine and feminine, vertical and horizontal" (Monnel. en vrouwel.,

vertik.

en

horiz.).

To Mondrian, then, the horizontal expanse of the limitless receptacle of the sea symbolizes femininity; masculinity

symbolized by the rows of wooden the sea to break

its

waves and

piles

advancing

to protect the

dunes against

erosion. By imagining the prolongation of these pilings

get an image of a forest bathing

in

is

into

we

the sea, vertical trunks

cutting across the horizontal line of the

waves, and also the 39


line of

the horizon

at right angles.

itself

Such

is

the origin of

AAondrian's theme, of the fundamental dualism which

become the basis of Neo-Plasticism. This system was to rest entirely upon the dogma of

was

aesthetic

later to

the right

angle, already provided, broadly speaking, by the horizon

and the

of the sea

vertical opposition of the dunes. Thus

dogma

the Scholastic

mind which was not the least sensuous of

When we world

all

more

met

and

for the first time, their

we

Kandinsky

each

in

we

leave one

time,

and especially

men they

I

the Cerc/e et Carre group,

on

this

occasion

courtesies.

scarcely went

when do not seem

Later

to live in Neuilly, their relations

toward the end of

on,

Mondrian

don't care for him,"

"I

their

was present when

other. in

have greatly improved.

said

same

1930,

conversation

came

Kandinsky

are dealing with. The two

beyond a few conventional

to

to

or less at the

attraction for

the

in

even though they carried out

another,

investigations

is

was confirmed by

painters.

during the crucial period felt little

the senses,

first in

pass from Mondrian

for

nothing

to the effect that

his life

when he was asked about

Kandinsky.

Two

such dissimilar forces (giants of painting) could but

exclude each other. This other giant the fantastic Oriental

throughout

his

came from

background ever present

vast work

its

abundant

Russia, with in

and

him,

colors burst out

in

great and joyous tumult. While Mondrian had formed

had

with the Cubists, Kandinsky affinities with the Fauves.

over

thirty

A

quite logically found his

latecomer

when he decided

to

a

ties

to painting (he

dedicate himself

was

to

it),

Kandinsky's eye had been struck and stimulated by Claude

Monet's Haystacks. However,

saw 40

in Paris, in

it

was

the Fauve paintings he

the course of a prolonged

visit in

1907, that


gave him

The Russian-Oriental elements

his real spur.

make-up found a sudden

outlet

uncommon

themselves with

abstract watercolor (1910)

match

in his

to assert

and boldness.

force

His

first

a colored sketch which can

is

and daring, any tachiste

vivacity

in

and proceeded

nonformal

or

painting of today. true that this rapid sketch remains

It

is

in

the evolution of Kandinsky's painting.

however, that finished paintings

Mahogany, Composition this

same year

go as far

like

an isolated outpost It

may be

and Improvisation

III,

10, all

of

above-mentioned watercolor, 1910,

of the

the direction of abstraction as

in

observed,

the Improvisation on

the figurative

in

We know

that

Kandinsky painted landscapes, recognizable as such,

until

of the faithful interpretation of the object.

1913. But (1911),

who can the

or

tell

whether the large Composition

Improvisation (1912)

Museum, are landscapes lies

ambiguity of

the

conventions, and strike

me

make

out a

as

An

abstract art that

mind? Here

when one abandons

once claimed that he could

art critic

on horseback

color." But there has in

or fantasies of the frontiers,

IV

Guggenheim

the

confess that these subtle distinctions

I

idle.

man

all

in

it

been is

hard

in

the "first abstract water-

much

so

to

discussion over priority

avoid the labyrinth of these

quibbles.

As

for

myself,

I

confess

situations, for radical,

also feel a secret situations for

when

to

a

preference for clear-cut

and even extreme,

and very strong

night, the

it

is

But

I

ambiguous

they are natural and not feigned.

example, that hovering moment when

and not yet

positions.

attraction to

I

mean,

no longer day

shades of emotion between

indif-

ference and friendship, the region lying between the plain

and the mountain, the nebulous age between childhood

and adolescence.

If

such ambiguities are so fascinating

it

41


doubtless because they are so undefinable. That which

is

pure transition

is

because of

have a common

tenuous that

we

frontier

often do not

know which

paintings. Artists like Klee, AAiro,

pitched their tents on

from one side

by that

in

we

side

we

are on.

also

travel

anxious to sow uneasiness in the same time, uneasy themselves. Passers-

we must

are,

is

a valid conception

that Kandinsky's

Uber das Geistige

grant that

this

life.

was

in

December

191

1

der Kunst (Concerning the Spiritual

editions

was

1912, though there

in

in Art)

was

printed

book has done so much standing of the

new

penetratingly or

more

translation

for the dissemination

ideas, fully.

none

It is,

sets

and

will

foundation stones of twentieth-century basis for

them

art,

literally.

to

There

does not reach our itself,

been conveyed inwardly

like

more

forth

a

permanent

be without meaning and says

is

no form, there

world, which says nothing. Often,

for

and under-

centuries. Let us

nothing (according to the consecrated phrase),

and

No

few passages.

"When form appears be taken

1949.

in

remain, one of the

comparing our century with other

look again at a

in

German

not a complete English

and a French

translation until 1946,

soul, either

or,

as

is

to the right

the calm

and

is

because

more place

it

likely,

is

true, the it

must not

this

nothing

in

the

message

has no meaning

because

it

has not

Every serious work rings

dignified words, 'Here

Love or hatred of the work blows over 42

It

to their

and constantly

Munich. This work went through two subsequent

in

so

is

to the other,

observer, and, atthe

It

work that

and Dubuffet have

borderline

this

and

abstraction

their

in

mind

to the

the cases of

in

ambiguity that imparts a rare poetic charm

this

of

same

the

is

It

Kandinsky, and the Cubists:

AAondrian, figuration

is

more appealing

the

all

is

elusiveness.

its

it

and

I

am.

dissolves. These


words

There

ring out eternally

no 'must'

is

in art,

which

is

ever free. Before a 'must' art vanishes, as does day before the night."

theme

But the main

book

of the

is

the affirmation of inner

necessity, of an inner urge (die innere Notwendigkeit, der

innere Drang), a kind of Bergsonian elan vital applied to painting. The author constantly reverts to this

as to the central source of

main theme

his thinking.

means are sacred when they are dictated by inner necessity. All means are reprehensible when they do not

"All

spring from the fountain of inner necessity

which

we

greatest good fortune of our time,

away from

us

— The

path on

already find ourselves today, and which

the outer

the

is

the path which leads

is

appearance

and brings

of things

us instead to the opposite goal: the goal of inner necessity

must be blind

....The artist

deaf

nized' form, His

to 'recognized'

open eyes must be directed

must be constantly attuned Then he

be able

will

with equal

facility, all

to his inner life

all

springs from three mystical sources. They

as a child of his time, 3.

every

artist,

1.

his

every

own

as a servant of

timeless art which

and which

is

people, and

element of spirit

is

artist,

—

innate

expressed

in

ears

in

Inner necessity

personality;

art, is,

in all

the

from

turn arise

as a creator, must 2.

every

must express the essence of

general essence of art (that

his

approved means and,

disapproved means

three mystical necessities:

his time.

and

the voice of inner necessity.

to

employ

to

express the essence of

and 'unrecog-

teachings and desires of

to the

his

artist,

period;

must express what

is

the element of pure

beings, peoples,

work

and

the

and

times,

of every artist, every

every period, and which, as the principal

art,

knows no time

need penetrate only the

or space). The eyes of the first

two elements

in

order 43


to

bare the

lay

third.

Then

is

it

seen that the 'crudely'

sculptured column of an Indian temple

same

Thus the in

as the most

spirit

is

imbued with the

'modern' work."

breathed during the period of the 8/aue Reiter

spirit

Munich. But of

famous

living

those artists

all

And even

abstract works.

who

participated

Kandinsky was the only one

exhibition,

in his

case, as

we have

choice remained indeterminate: one part of

ambivalent

work even much

With

(1917);

In

the case of some,

to

pure abstraction

the

(1917);

like

(1

Moscow

942).

Kupka, for example, the passage

was sudden and with no Some go to Damascus and are

struck (or illuminated) on the

return to lightning-

way; others, responsive only

to the

whims

many

convolutions of their brains. Though

of chance, follow rural paths which are like so

simple, Kupka's case has

a

seen, the

work being

such as Saint George

920; and Three Mottled Figures

1

figurative art.

later,

Wooden Horse

the

landscapes of

offer

1913, without counting numerous returns

until

to figurative

his

that

in

to

its

own

complexity.

it

seems

We

find

quite in

him

kind of spontaneous generation of free forms arising

independently of any else spurred by time.

It

all

amazing

is

one form

Futurist,

Fauve, or Cubist influence, or

these movements at one and the to

to another,

from the simplest

to the

from the arabesque with very pure turgidity.

The fact

is

1900s,

completely. For

greatness

most baroque, to

lines

Symbolist

that the painter lived for a long time

"modern

the climate of the so-called of the

same

see with what ease he passes from

and found all his

it

hard

to

style" or Art

break

unevenness as an

when he chose

to,

and

in

Nouveau

away from

artist,

in

it

he achieved

any case he remains

one of the authentic pioneers of modern

art.


Kupka, then, participated

in

the Fall Salon of 1912 with two

works which created general consternation and which are undoubtedly the

paintings to propose, with no retreat,

first

a radical renewal of Cubism.

1913, he exhibited

In

Localizations of Graphic Mobiles

same Salon

showed

while at the Salon des Independants he

Planes and Brown Line Solo. The painter seemed certain pleasure

in

negated

mutually

the

in

and

I

II,

Vertical to

take a

exhibiting side by side canvases which

one

another,

perhaps

order

in

to

emphasize thereby the caprices of inspiration. Kupka's

was

production capricious

absence has

and

sense capricious

this

but never frivolous.

jolting,

his

until It

in

death

perhaps the

is

of humor, of the lighter side of the

made

ground"

in

spirit,

which

so difficult for his painting to "get off the

it

Paris.

Yet

Verticals (1911), Blue

it

full

is

of loftiness:

and Red

Language of

Verticals (191

3),

the

Philosophic

Architecture (1913), Sonorous Verticals (1921), Elevations (1938). In

the spiritual climate of Delaunay

still

in

1912

two American

we

painters:

Macdona Id-Wright. Although

Stanton in

and

Paris,

their painting

Orphism, they refused they exhibited

in

1913,

is

find

first

in

Russell

and

they got their training

by Delaunay's

visibly influenced

to enlist

and we are

Morgan

under

this

banner.

Munich and then

When

in

Paris

(at Bemheim-Jeune's), calling themselves "synchromists."

was by

this

designation that history

was

to

adopt the

It

first

two American abstract painters. And nothing appears more justified

than

this distinction.

They were very young. 1912,

and

Morgan

Macdonald-Wright

Encouraged by the

Russell

was

was

barely

twenty-six

in

twenty-two.

latest novelties in painting to

be seen

in

the great Paris exhibitions, they

seem

contagious climate and

to the itch of all the colors

fell

prey

to

have entered the

45


and nothing would do but they must

simultaneously,

at

once transcribe these on canvas. The bloodless crime that they committed (premeditated

was

seems, for they also wrote)

it

a felicitous transcription of energy and frankness. The

achieved through

lyricism they

of Delaunay, their art

their

case

sense of structure. But

very different from that of the French painter.

is

uses

Russell

way negated

no

in

color, exactly as in the

geometric

clashing

forms,

by

trapezoidal

preference, with or without alternating curves. His main

work

Synchromy

the very large

is

at the Salon des Independants is

in

a Synchrony

New

to

Form which was shown

No

1914.

in

York), a

another. With details that are crude

time

when

the picture

and

and even

painter obtains a whole of perfect unity. style at the

was

It

more elegant, and

above

Hence there

is

was

ancient Japanese

art,

most highly reputed

and

orientalist

first

its

title.

life to

artist's

first-class painter,

is

his

the study of is

one of

is

one of

his

its

in

most

this attraction to the

Wholjy abstract paintings are rare

period of the

are by a

force,

than

The Oriental Synchromy

accomplished works and announces in

in

(Macdonald-Wright

at the present time

authorities).

Blue-Green of 1918 (Whitney Museum)

East

a brand-

allusive

fact to dedicate long years of his

in

cruel, the

a more poetic climate, a delicacy

which prefigures the future

was

more

all

the

one

jar

painted.

AAacdonald-Wright's manner, while not lacking

colleague's.

Museum

disarticulated kaleidoscope

sort of

four parts of which simultaneously reinforce

new

remarkable

less

Four Ports No. 7 of 1914 (Whitney

in

in

this

production, but those we know precocious in his maturity. A few

of his

works attain a harmony of form and color that have

rarely

been surpassed.

I

have before

Russell's

46

me

loose

sheets

and pages

of

Morgan

1912/13 sketchbook. The numerous sketches are


rich

a

revealing the genesis of

in

progressive

recomposition

improvisation

or

cubist process,

On one pencil,

began

is

the

to

fractions:

a

the

However Russell was very where he abandoned the object

create freely with forms

to

of these sketches

"There

object,

with

witness

leading

other words.

in

quick to reach the point

altogether and

the

of

splitting-up

We

painting.

his

we

and

colors.

read the words, scribbled

purposely no subject (image),

in

to exalt

it's

other regions of the mind."

Another American

was

Paris at this time

in

Delaunays and exhibited with them

the

group at the Salon des Independents

was

paintings

All

that survives of this

Morgan

was

develop

to

individuated,

sharply

employed

in

name

large part

period are a few

the Yale University collection. These works are

in

rather close to later

first

Orphist

1914. His

in

Henry Bruce. His work has been

Patrick

destroyed.

a friend of the

in

in

order

Russell's style

the

in

the

it

a style which Bruce

cubed forms,

of

being

freely

would seem, a new

spatial

third

to create,

—

direction

dimension

density. All

three painters participated

But a few years later

Wright returned (he died

themes By

all

in

in 1

in

Morgan

the

Armory Show

Russell

former for good

to figurative painting, the

1953), the second to revert to

953, after several

accounts the

artistic

visits to

climate

of 1913.

and Macdonald-

new Synchromist

Japan.

in

Russia during these

pre-war years was extraordinary. For the exact dates of the

works created during find

agreement.

It

is

this

period, however,

undeniable,

and Gontcharova exhibited

in

it

is

less

easy

to

any case, that Larionov

at Paul Guillaume's

in

Paris, in

June 1914. Of some forty paintings shown, approximately fifteen

were altogether

abstract. The

show was a

kind of 47


them

retrospective of their Russian work, serving to introduce to Paris, in

all

and Guillaume

was

Apollinaire

the catalogue of the exhibition.

It is

lavish

in his

praises

only too obvious that

these paintings had not been executed during the course

of the year

and the

works shown, serves

diversity of the

to stress the

importance of the two painters and the boldness of

historic

their

which they were exhibited. This fact alone,

in

pre-1914 explorations.

They were above a word that

Nothing

the inventors of "Rayonism" (ray-ism),

all

was perhaps coined

more opposed

is

cube than the

as a reply to Cubism.

and weight

to the plasticity

of the

flash of light. The manifesto of Rayonism,

signed by Larionov, appeared

1913. But

in

it

seems

quite

probable that Larionov's and Gontcharova's canvases this

style

had been painted much

earlier.

I

in

have had the

opportunity of seeing reproductions of two Rayonist works

by Larionov

— works

publication

that

which are altogether abstract

appeared

in

Moscow

1912.

in

—

in

a

these

In

paintings the influence of the Futurist manifestos, which had circulated widely

Russia,

in

seems obvious. As we know,

everything that

was being done

immediately

Moscow, thanks

in

the collectors Shchukin

spent

their

time

abandoned

was known almost

especially to the activity of

to the

difficulty in the

Malevich.

It

is

Paris.

who were very close to

famous

1914

In

Diaghilev, their

Ballets Russes.

dating of works

hard for

Diaghilev,

and devoted

painting almost completely

painter can have lied

me

when he wrote

Objective World (originally published

is

attached

to the

to believe that this in

in

his

book, The Non-

1927 as Die Gegen-

standlose Welt): "During the year 1913, 48

like

between Moscow and

from then on

A similar name of

Paris

and Morosov who,

Larionov and Gontcharova,

talents

in

in

my desperate


attempt

weight of the object,

to free art of the useless

resorted

the

to

I

and exhibited a painting that

square

represented nothing more than a black square against a "

white background times

in

The date of 1913

is

repeated ten

same book beneath reproductions

the

of

works by

AAalevich, the date of 1914 twice, the date of 1914/15 once,

1915 four times, 1916 three times, think of these

specific

etc.

Whatever one may

indications or of the accuracy of

these dates, the study of the documents of the period, patiently carried out by M.

Malevich's

that

Habasque, brings out the fact

were

Suprematist works

before 1915, which

is

in

exhibited

not

fact the date of the Russian edition

of this work. This being said,

we

cannot

fail to

recognize the exceptional

audacity of having presented to the public as a work of art,

whether

in

1915 or

1913, a simple square

in

drawn

in

graphite.

From

Fauvist, Cubist,

his

and

AAalevich pushed on to the pure

Cubist-Futurist antecedents,

and simple plane, and from

there to the spelling out of the primary elements: the circle, the cross (or two planes cutting across each other), the triangle, the straight line, this

and the broken

alphabet that he began

stroke.

was

It

with

to write his style of painting,

a kind of aerial construction, which he called "Suprematism." It

was

related

sculptor-painter,

to

The two last-named after the

Constructivism,

and

invented

by

Tatlin,

artists

gave up

advent of Communism

in

original art

Russia

some time

and from

this

time

on concerned themselves only with techniques of applied AAalevich, defenseless

struggle

in

works are in

be found

art.

and without means, continued the

Leningrad, where he died to

a

also to Rodchenko's Non-Objectivism.

in

the

in

1935. AAany of his

Peggy Guggenheim

Venice, at the AAuseum of AAodern Art

in

collection

New

York

(in

49


famous White on White

particular the

greater number, at the Stedelijk

A few

isolated forerunners

of

Museum

in

1

in

Amsterdam.

title

Rubber as

908 and had also turned out a number of abstract

drawings. Joseph Lacasse, while

working

and

must be mentioned here. Francis

Picabia had painted a canvas bearing the early as

1919),

in

man

a very young

still

some remarkable

a stone quarry, had executed

gouaches between 1909 and 1912; they could have been the

work

of

Poliakoff working

a

Rossine, a bewildering painter

tortured soul

and an uneven

artist

Musee

out abstract paintings. The

grisaille.

in

artist,

a

intermittently turned

Moderne

d'Art

has a strange, large, untitled painting of

The Austrian

Baranoff-

was one

ever there

if

Stolbach (as early as

1

his,

906

I

in

Paris

dated 1910.

am

assured)

executed a great number of drawings, some of which are closely related to certain investigations

even I

in

regarded as novel

1960.

cannot

fail

to

mention some abstract "Impressions" by

Degas which were exhibited

in

some years ago, and

Paris

present-day works of our

which are strangely close

to the

blurry nonformal painters.

We know

that

Claude Monet

is

openly recognized as an ancestor and a master by a whole

group of Parisian abstract painters.

I

know

a large study

museum in the south of France — apparently one of the studies he made for the Nympheas — which could easily pass for an abstract painting. What by Monet,

in

a small local

does the brand of the liquor matter, so long as one can get drunk on

it!

The intoxication that today's young painters

derive from the is

in

Nympheas

any case an

(unjustly forgotten for

intoxication that

does not lead

some time) to extrav-

agance. But long before

Degas and Monet, there was

forerunner whose pre-abstract impressions 50

that other

of Venice, for


Emilio Pettoruti •

26

example

are well known.

I

am

Harmony-Movement

referring to

J. AA.

W.

1914

Turner.

When the First World War broke out, AAondrian was visiting Holland; Klee, Pevsner, Marc, and Macke had just produced their

first

abstract works

Arp was

die at the front);

Switzerland

drawing

and composing later

the

to

call

exhibiting art,

thus

painting

a

and

my

Birth");

was

later in

Brancusi

to

Weggis,

Baghavad

was

publishing

Independents; Marcel

Gita

his

sculpting

famous

Duchamp was

rack for drying wine bottles as a work of

anticipating his

abstract collages (which he was

Prodigal Child; Cravan

Pamphlets on the

two last-named were

Paris

illustrations for the

his first

"Before

(the in

first

Dadaism;

in

Italy,

Magnelli,

was

large canvases with geometric forms; 51


was

Balla

was

painting Mercury Passes before the Sun; London

witnessing the birth of the Vorticist group, which

a good deal to the Futurists and which its first

To

was

to give

owed

England

Edward Wadsworth.

abstract painter,

my knowledge, no exhibition having a wholly abstract was held before 1914. The principal public art

character

exhibitions

with

in

which abstract works were shown (together

representational

works) were the

Munich, the Jack of Diamonds,

Blaue

Reiter,

in

Moscow, the Salon des Independants, the Salon d'Automne, and the Salon de la

Section d'Or, in

in

in

Paris, the exhibits of the

Amsterdam, the Armory Show

exhibits of the Stieglitz Gallery exhibits of the Sturm Gallery

A mass

in

of 1913 in

the

Modern

Art Circle

New

York, the

in

same

city,

and the

Berlin.

new material was spread out, to create the art of It was possible to build (and yet the demolition

of

this century.

instruments But rarely,

were in

also included

limited

52

the building tools).

was anyone

to do had already been done by a few creators with means and utterly devoid of vanity. Rarely was

better than

anyone

among

the forty years to follow,

to

do as

well.


TWO

PART

From 191 5

How many good It

is

things

De

little

we owe

to

chance encounters!

we owe the creation, two years later, A small group of men, a fighting

("the style").

Stijl

magazine, gave

to exert,

1940

meeting of Mondrian with Theo van Doesburg at

to the

the end of 1915 that of

in life

to

and which

birth to

still

movement which was

a great

exerts, a telling influence on

the main tendencies of the art of this century.

was an

intellectual

adventure

is

finer for

of

Van Doesburg — and what

in

quest of adventure

an

intellectual

than a powerful idea?

Mondrian was Van Doesburg's great ful

one

discovery, his power-

idea.

The two men were predestined

to

understand and com-

plement each other. Without leaving Holland, Van Doesburg

had

closely followed

European

art.

all

the avant-garde developments

He had published poems, numerous

in

articles,

and he painted. AAondrian's contribution was the atmosphere of Paris — the coolest and the hottest in the world — and his

work.

It

was through

his

work that the contact was

established —through an apparently secondary

side of his

work: the India-ink drawings, those that Alfred H. Barr, later called

"plus-minus" works

Jr.

a progressive develop-

ment, a kind of meditation on the horizontal-vertical theme carried to the point of total

distillation.'

outline (Kroller-Muller

the

peak

of his

What was

Museum

in

just

an erased oval

Otterloo),

which represents

development along these

at issue? Essentially,

The series had in

reached the large drawing contained

it

lines.

seems

to

have been the

problem of on aesthetic harmonization of the relationship 53


between man and

urban environment. Van Doesburg

his

had already worked with found few echoes

architects, but his radical ideas

their

in

work, even

architecture at that time was, as

The

functionalism.

to

Holland where

in

we know,

already close rhythms

horizontal-vertical

of

and

AAondrian's latest works, the austerity of the blacks

whites

the large drawings, could be the application of a

in

pure type of architecture

to painting.

An

architecture purer

than had ever been dreamt of at that time. Hence the terms plastique pure and nouvelle plastique

and

beelding

nieuwe

beelding).

AAondrian's

work,

revealed

Van Doesburg

of the

to

touchstone

encounter

of

own

his

—

a concept that could

was the kernel moment Van Doesburg thought of completely

the basis of a system, a concept that

of DeStijI. For a

eliminating the collaboration of architects

order that finally

its

principle might remain

decided against

this

De

in

Stijl,

in

uncompromised. He

measure, however, and the

first

movement's magazine was published with the

issue of the

collaboration of the architects Oud, Wils, the

with

reflections,

the existance of an architecture

free of contingencies

spirit,

become

a

Dutch zuivere

(in

His

painters

AAondrian,

Van der

painter-sculptor Vantongerloo,

Leek,

and Van

't

Hoff,

and Huszar, the

and Van Doesburg

himself,

a painter, architect, and, under the pseudonym of Bonset, a poet.

We

can follow the progress of AAondrian's work during these

years step by step.

First

the short stroke

then longer lines gradually

split

becomes a

up the canvas

plane,

into multiple

planes, which progressively spread, finally culminating

in

the very fine duality-unity of his square paintings of 1928/

1932 with few

lines

and planes.

His

work

is

a kind of

conquest of silence, a slow exploration-in-depth of the void, a 54

void

in

whose

crucible

Being

affirms

itself

by

utter


ascetic canvases, translating a

maximum

by means of a

This

development

the

work

and

reiterate

balance, and

relation,

a Platonic style present

in

philosophy

the

structure.

horizontal-vertical

the

of

philosophy based on

theme, a

writings which explain

ideas constantly repeated.

basic

and dialogues

Articles, essays,

notions

One

is

Mondrian published

in

De

Stijl.

I

juxtaposition,

of

struck by the clarity

with which the ideas are defined, even that

presence

of carnal

of spiritual presence.

terms of

in

minimum

accompanied by

is

dematerialized,

are

paintings

Mondrian's

renunciation.

in

the

first article

can account for

clarity

by the years of reflection which preceeded, as well as by his

abundant notations

(no longer extant), but also by the

support which Mondrian found

intellectual

philosopher Schoenmaekers, with contact

whom

he

whose works on

1917/18, and

in

the

in

was

in

Dutch

friendly

mystical math-

And

ematics, based on Hinduism, were familiar to him. surely he also found comfort and strength for

by reading Henri Poincare, whose Voleur de (1906)

was

highly

Mondrian's

own

esteemed

may

which

passage

in

own

his

la

intellectual circles.

readers

surprise

ideas

Science

Here

familiar

is

a

with

writing (the italics are mine):

"Sensations are not transmissible, or rather, their purely qualitative

properties

are

not

transmissible.

The same,

however, does not apply for relations between sensations.

"From

this point of

quality;

all

relations It

is

...it

only is

it

is

view, everything objective purely

relative

—

is

devoid of

Consequently only

between sensations can have an objective value in

—

these relations that objectivity must be sought

these relationships alone that can be regarded as

objective." 55


Does

not read

this

a fragment of an article written by

like

Mondrian between 1917 and

simplest elements,

in

920?

De

bringing to

to

calm,

his

search

for

Van Doesburg's nervous

Stijl

the

reduction of pictorial means,

the

for

forms a sharp contrast ness

1

almost Olympian

AAondrian's

feverish-

the diverse values which his flair

Van Doesburg published from draw upon a vast fund of information combined

discovered. The brief works 191 7 to 191 9

with a rare perspicacity. This remarkable team, one contri-

buting the ideas, the other the impetus, constituted the

magazine, at

essential substance of the left DeSti'il in

The principles of De its

Still

are well known: the right angle

vertical-horizontal position (which

"firm support"),

the exclusion of In

his

and the use all

in

Mondrian called the

of the three primary colors, to

shading or mixing.

Manifesto of Elementarism of 1924, Van Doesburg

proposed obtain

Mondrian

least until

1924.

inclining the right

angle

more dynamic

effect.

a

disavowed

this

to

45 degrees

Mondrian

in

order

to

immediately

as heresy and ceased to contribute

to the

magazine.

At the very Russia

issue

moment when De Stijl was publishing its first was undergoing a political upheaval. The

October Revolution exerted a Russian avant-garde given high posts

in

artists,

powerful appeal on the

many

the teaching

of

whom were

and administration

to

of the

fine arts. Kandinsky, Malevich, Chagall, Pevsner, Tatlin,

many

other

Futurists

new

Constructivists,

became

government-officials

and

1921,

until

and

Cubist-

when

the

directives of the Party launched the official doctrine of

Socialist Realism, artists,

56

Suprematists,

be

and

which

still

prevails today.

not the least gifted, thereupon

Many

left

Russian

the country.


who

Those

submitted

new laws were paralyzed

the

to

and were no longer heard from. A few, given

artistically

missions to organize exhibitions of Russian art

official

Paris, Berlin,

and London, did not

return to their

in

homeland.

Yet there had been high hopes. Encouragement had been given to the most advanced AAalevich.

Exhibitions

of

artists,

notably Kandinsky and

Constructivist

were held

art

Leningrad and Moscow. The most memorable event of

happy phase was It

was

the open-air exhibition

given by the brothers

on the Tverskoy Boulevard and

of

1

920

Moscow.

in

and held

Pevsner,

a music kiosk which

in

was at this exhibition that Manifesto was launched, proclaiming

stands there. Realist

in

Gabo and

in

this

It

the

famous

the primacy

space and the suppression of the opaque mass Moreover,

sculpture.

was

it

this

which

event

was

in

to

transform the painter Pevsner into a sculptor.

At

just

about the same period a

abstraction had

come

third center of

geometric

being spontaneously

in

Switzer-

land, a center completely separated from those

in

Holland

into

and Russia by closed referring

Taeuber

to in

(cut with a

the

frontiers

work done

and armies

at war.

I

am

by Jean Arp and Sophie

1915 and 1916, and also

to the

paper cutouts

paper trimmer) they collaborated on

in

1918.

Malevich had exhibited a perfect square only once, and

had immediately gone on

to

other geometric elements.

Sophie Taeuber, however, between 1916 a

long

series

of

which are so close the free use of

most

all

small

to

1918 executed

horizontal-vertical

to the principles of

the colors) that

I

De

see

in

Stijl

polychromes (apart from

them one of the

striking illustrations of the similitude of synchronically

parallel

ideas.

What

is

No matter where, no And we know that at this

ripe bursts.

matter what the circumstances.

57


moment

very

of writing there are abstract painters

Soviet Union

whose work, kept

being done

Paris

in

and

Gallery during an exhibition later,

it

was

is

in

the

what

close to

is

New York.

in

Arp and Sophie Taeuber met

he wrote

secret,

Tanner

Zurich, 1915, at the

in in

which Arp participated. As

my

"the capital event of

Sophie Taeuber's work, which he saw a

Of

life'.'

later,

little

he has

written as follows:

"A deep and serene of colors

and

silence filled her structures

vertical rectangular planes

I

found, stripped

elements of

in

down

to

lines

and the vast

pure

horizontality

and expansiveness

me

life,

work was

for

man

vanity has ravaged

the

this

same

and

the extreme

time,

rose the

made in

the

upward sky,

of dreamlike peace.

and

Her

growing with

art,

it

at

Dadaist whirlwind. Exceptional

possible an exceptional outburst of will

remain unique

the history of art.

Using whatever missiles

came

because he has the target

way

the

sullied."

to

hand, Dada

hit

the bull's-

eye every time. The good marksman does not need

the

work.

essential

equilibrium, the sheer

and creative power which

inimitable

my

the

limit,

and

a symbol of a divinely built 'house' which

pure kernel of abstract

circumstances childlike joy

the

and the planes toward

verticality of

Around

art,

earthly construction: the bursting,

all

surge of the

in his

work of

the

exerted a decisive influence on

simplification,

Here

composed

surfaces. The exclusive use of horizontal

in

himself

that the vine-grower

and he scores

prunes

his

vine,

to

aim

in just

exacting

though the work be, with a casual eye.

Dada indulged

in

every form of fun,

in

every prank, and

even the least of these improvised "jokes" bore considerable 58


fruit.

This heritage

people,

is

still

fresh today, since so

draw upon

various countries

in

it

many young

unrestrainedly,

afraid neither of facile imitation nor of ponderous, shortlived jests. To all

appearances, Doda was also

What served

make

to

historic

it

was

short-lived.

the Dadaists' true

detachment and the fact that they managed incongruous with the

human

provided by the time (an oasis

of Zurich). The Ball,

in

and the place

butchery)

frightful

to join the

was

element. The incongruous

the midst of an era of (the very

human elements were

bourgeois

city

the creators: Arp,

Eggeling, Janco, Huelsenbeck, Richter, Sophie Taeuber,

and Tzara. But even before

this,

in

America, Duchamp,

and Man Ray had anticipated a

Picabia

Dadaism,

sort of

sometimes called "Proto-Dada." Immediately after the end of the war, the Dada spread

all

over Europe. Very

the times, it

became

it

broke out

in

France (where Alfred Jarry had been

political), in

preparing the ground a long time before),

and

in

Schwitters.

Zurich, with the

biographies. But that there

in

what

is

in

Personalities as varied

style,

Duchamp accent,

the Cabaret

known,

in

of in

my

of the spirit

opinion,

is

Dada, as many this

prodigious

as Picabia, Ernst, Arp,

are each small complete universes

and manias which are wholly

Dada was able to the same spiritual

freedom

in

books, articles, and auto-

less well

were as many conceptions

Schwitters,

If

Belgium,

Dada's center remained

Dadaisms as there were actors

spectacle.

having

Nevertheless,

famous "Dada evenings"

so often described

Voltaire,

distinct

in

New names joined the list of those already Max Ernst, Raoul Haussmann, Georg Grosz,

Holland.

mentioned: Kurt

spirit

much in tune with the mood of Germany (where at moments

bring

all

climate

was

individual.

these individualists together it

was

precisely

because the

the sole rule of this climate

and 59


because the Dada movement consistently shied away from

any kind

of intellectual mold.

Dada has no than

to

clever

clumsy.

clever. Dadaists are

things because they are not afraid of being

all

in

purpose

principles, since these serve no other

be trampled underfoot by the

Dadaism laughs, because the world's misfortunes

weapon

are stupid. For one feeds what one combats, but no is

long

enough

to

reach laughter. Then, too, Dada's laughter

has a very special quality. laughter that

is

the bravado, the eppure.

which

where

flits

is

It

a creative laughter,

secretly contained

wills,

it

It

in

is

it

the laughter of the holy

is

even

in

the

every creative work, spirit

God

the very beard of

the

Father.

The main Dadaist works

the abstract realm, aside from

in

those of Arp and Sophie Taeuber of which

I

have already

spoken, are the series of drawings by Eggeling for

D/agona/-Symphony and Horizontal-Vertical polychrome

Marcel Janco's

drawings,

"mechanical"

portraits,

From the clean-cut capricious form

and

A/lass, Richter's

Picabia's

reliefs,

Schwitter's collages.

Arp was soon

line,

when he

his films,

to

illustrated Tzara's

pass

to

the

Cinema Ca/en-

drierdu Coeur Abstrait (1920). This alternation of "classical"

and "baroque" life,

styles

was henceforth

which humor at times was able After

Cubism

Jeanneret

is

the

title

(Le Corbusier)

we admire

—

almost

in

a subtle

unity.

book by Ozenfant and

which appeared

—

resolved

seem

late in

When we

1918 and

read

it

today

these pages. Alas! the finest

in

to

have been useless

the difficult succession of the failed,

in his

irreverent,

the clarity with which the problems are stated

intellectual virtues

60

be a constant

to fuse into

of a small

which was the manifesto of Purism.

and

to

an image of Arp's two natures, mystical and

peak years

any case, mainly because of

its

in

assuming

of Cubism. Purism

too short duration


and, because of

this,

too feeble development. But

its

it

is

worthwhile rereading a few of the statements that appear in

the pamphlet:

"The tools are at hand: with the use of raw material

works that

build

make

will

The present-day

spirit

is

elimination of waste

available to

in

short, a

and

tendency

materials, to

to purity. This

we must

Naturalism, Impressionism, and Cubism have

it;

build

bad

habits

works that

We

games.

itself

language, with rediscovering the means

its

liberated us from

of

also the definition of Art. Art has also concerned

with recreating

this

is

it

such a tendency to rigorous-

ness, to precision, to the best use of forces

is

react:

intellect

Science progresses only by dint of

reaction that counts rigor.

the

we must

really

and

Now

ossified traditions.

belong

to

our time

aspire to a grave rigorousness

Enough

— We want

no part of works exploiting effects that are accidental, exceptional,

impressionistic,

inorganic,

What we need are works

picturesque.

rebellious,

of relevance,

or

works

that are static, works expressive of the immutable."

As

we

see, this

again,

we

is

a sharply anti-Dadaist position. Thus, once

note the ever simultaneous presence of the two

poles of the art of the rule

As

this

century: the style

and the expression,

and the upsurge.

for the heritage

of-

Cubism,

I

think that the Purists, far

even a yard

from carrying

it

short even

Cubism, precisely because they were too

of

a

much concerned carafe

solely

displayed

according treated 62

it,

a

step

or

with stylizing the object

as

royal

to their

a

matter

of

indifference

humor

or their

principle. to

the

whim

bottle,

The

object,

of the

with the most insolent freedom.

farther,

fell

glass,

Cubists or

else,

moment, they


What was

emerge from Cubism

to

was

a book by Albert Gleizes)

and the Suprematists

Plasticists in

their paintings:

borrow the

(to

clearly in

shown by

the Neo-

their writings as well as

was pure geometry. Thus

it

had dropped from

claimed by the Purists

subtitle of

the succession

their

hands even

before they published their manifesto, however intelligent it

may have

Better even,

been.

and above

was Mondrian and and

—

made

clear

—

but

may

account. Guernica of Expressionism,

It

was through

in

true that art

is

is

times,

at

history,

it

the

their to

indifferent to

own

disdaining their

heritage

takes

this

into

well be the (belated) masterpiece

highly sensitive landscapes; but never level of

work from

logician,

was busy

again would either of them achieve the Cubist period.

their

short-lived),

who drew

Braque may well have painted magnificent

and

studio interiors

it

be Stijl

works that these new ideas were

their

and the Cubists this

to

co-workers of De

spread through Europe. logic

radically than the Russian

any case

in

from Cubism, and

logical conclusion

writings

his

more

all

movements (which were

History,

a

cruel

elsewhere.

A

multitude of combative

precarious

about

this

in

every corner of Europe at

period. They constituted the liveliest ground

Holland, and Der Sturm

in

continued to appear and were to

mention

8/o/c in

Manomefre The

in

Warsaw, Zenith

Next Call

(for

in

in

twenties. Besides Berlin

last until

(edited

Gestaltung)

iral in

in

A/la in in

Vienna,

Hanover,

Gronigen,

Antwerp, Sept Arts

Berlin (edited

we must

1932),

Belgrade,

by Werkman) in

De

(both of which

Lyon, N\erz (edited by Schwitters)

Overzicht and (To

G

magazines," leading a

exchange during the

of intellectual Stijl

sprang up

life,

same

"little

Het

in

Brussels,

by Richter and

Lissitzky),

63


Contimporanul and Punkt A. B.C.

by

in

all I'Esprit

Posmo

Nouveau,

Prague,

in

first

edited

Dermee, then by Ozenfant and Le Corbusier,

Paul

followed

1927 by the single issue of Documents

in

notionaux de myself.

Bucharest,

in

and above

Zurich,

Finally,

1926, Cahiers d'Art

in

Inter-

Nouveau, edited by Dermee and

I'Esprit

came

being,

into

under the editorship of Christian Zervos. This publication the

still

ancestor

living

of

important

the

is

reviews

art

published today that distribute throughout the world the

annals and the day-to-day events of the art of our time.

However, the climate that prevailed be compared

in

1920 can

and the

practically no public

avant-garde

little

had no other readers other than those in

who bought

where

visible,

paint,

art reviews

directly interested

a retreat

in

they had expected. Those

endurance,

exhibition of

De

(Leonce Rosenberg) indifference.

collapse of Paris that

the

figurative painting which, with

Stijl in

them the success

to bring

who

persisted

needed sound

they had no independent income.

if

at the Galerie

de

I'Effort

AAoderne

1923 was surrounded by a wall of

Mondrian,

his

in

was everyseemed imminent. Many ceased to

some found refuge

virtues of

way was

abstract art? Disaffection

one or two exceptions, was not

in

no

them. Were there at that time even ten persons

world

An

in

with that of today. To begin with, there

who had

sold

saw

nothing,

the

hope of being sponsored by the only gallery

had ever

solicited him,

and he was on the verge

of despair. In secret he painted flowers in order to subsist.

Kupka was not more favored. The fact remains that the traces of certain unknown or forgotten painters,

mentioned

whose names can be found

magazines

of

those

years,

in

the above-

often

displayed

prefigurations of the successful painting of today.

We

surprised, for example, to see that the investigations

in

64

are

black


'"

'"<

WMBKnSBsBBmKtfKKk

28

Piet

AAondrian • Composition

29

in

Bright Colors with Gray Contours •

Theo van Doesburg

Composition

1

91 9

• 191 9


30

Fernand Leger Serigraph after a mural composition of

66

I

1

924


/%

32

31

Georges Vantongerloo ax 2 + bx + ?8« 1930

Composition

Antoine Pevsner • Gray Scale

XV Derived from

the Equation Y

1920

= 67


33

Sophie Taeuber-Arp • Watercolor

34

Marcel Janco • Bright Morning Sun • 191 8

1

927


mam

,922

SERVRANCKX 35

Victor

Servranckx* Opus 20

1922

69


36

Wassily Kandinsky • The Red Spot* 1921

37

Wassily Kandinsky

Arrow Toward the Circle

1930


38

39

Joan Miro • Landscape

Sonia Delaunay • Catalogue cover for an exhibition

J^L^^

MHOtM r/^1 g

in

1

930

Stockholm • 1916


40

Robert Delaunay • Rhythm 579 • 1934

72


-1

Piet

Mondrian

Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue

42

Jean Gorin

Composition No. 9

1

1

921

934


43

Kurt Schwitters • Small

44

Auguste Herbin

Home

for

Composition

Seamen

1939

1926


45

46

^^^mmmm

Kurt Schwitters • Merzbild • 1922

Serge Charchoune

Ornamental Cubism

1

927


am

m

*

.* K

L^| k

Y.iVtf.-..fi.-.

1A,

47

Piet

76

Mondrian

• Victory

Boogie Woogie

1

944


/

/'

48

Jean Fautrier

49

Jean Atlan

Nude

• Untitled •

1960

1

959


938

50

Alberto Magnelli • Sonorous Border •

5

Nicolas de Stael • Football Players at the Pare des Princes •

1

1

1

952


52

Geer van Velde

53

Composition

Bram van Velde

1

951

Painting • 1960


i\

-

54 80

Andre Lanskoy

• Atrocities of the

Reds

1

959


â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

and white

then very current

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

are at times close to the

present-day achievements of Vasarely of oppositions.

the latter,

for the

minor works of the years

1922 Berlin was almost a dead

city. Inflation

had spread a choking blanket over taken refuge

play

and

1

920/24.

and poverty

Intellectual

it.

the avant-garde artists'

in

of

optical investigations are far-reaching, but

whose

speaks eloquently

In

same

their

in

Which by no means diminishes the merits

had

life

writers' clubs.

And all these intellectuals would meet e/ery evening in <rc homes of a few privileged individuals of the momenl vho gave reception after reception. Gatherings that were like r

the lighter joints that relieve the dreariness of dork gray wall. All races lot

of talk

politics,

was

rubbed elbows all

(in

in

these circles; there //as a

languages) about abstract

art,

Russian

Buddhism, and the new architecture. To love France

the honored rule. Everything that

happened

in

Paris

found an extremely sensitive response, the most minute fact of

Parisian

was immediately known, commented

life

and amplified. Everyone had already forgotten

Somewhere near opened a casa There

I

had a

brief,

where

somewhat

Marinetti

lecture,

example and

young man

of twenty

I

was

had a

catalytic

at that time.

waves

of the sea, no

two of which are

yet which ceaselessly slap against one another

kind of endless

and

universal combat.

I

speaker

horizon

line

In his

if

which

he had ever happened

remains

ever

the

alike in

a

couid recognize the

man who had written that war is the world's hygiene. When he had finished his speech, brilliant

had

lectures.

had drawn a great lesson from the

Marinetti of the

gave

sybilline discussion with the

inventor of "words at liberty," but one which effect on the

the nor.

the Kurfurstendamm, the Futurists futurista

on,

only form of I

asked the

to look at the

same, calm and


immutable: Being and Becoming here confront each other, both enveloped

deep

poet seemed dismissed

my

same image. The sea

the

in

me

fascination for

no account of

take

to

horizon held a

ever since childhood. The Italian

question with

and

existence

its

some remark about

"the

dreams

of Northerners."

Today, as then,

have the impression of witnessing the

I

irreducible opposition of these

hand, there

is

of concepts

and tends

hand, there

stylist

two world views. On the one

or the perfectionist

the active realist

is

who

thinks

On

to simplify the given.

own

empirical evidences of his

who has

in

terms

the other

faith only in the

senses. This

is

expressed

in

abstract art by a certain geometry and a certain algebra. Paradoxically,

it

is

the dreamers

other hand, their

who

most

virtue of this are finally the

who allow themselves become their own out

without

and who by

Those, on the

be guided

to

by

solely

destroyers by pouring

feelings

themselves

build,

realistic.

Thus

restraint.

the

nonformal

painters turn out works which, at best, furnish material for psychiatric

case

histories.

Case

destroy one another as the

annul one another.

A

narrowed eyes of the

sum

histories

waves

battle

which

in

effect

of the sea collide

and

which unfolds beneath the

horizon. The sly horizon which

of these psychological details: AAondrian

and

is

the

Pollock.

The creation of the Bauhaus was a considerable event

Germany, especially when

Klee,

Nagy, were appointed professors there

made

Doesburg had

a

in

1922. Theo van

spectacular appearance at the

Bauhaus the previous year, and the memory faded when

I

visited

there

in

revolutionary ideas of the editor of turmoil 82

in

in

Kandinsky and Moholy-

1928.

De

the minds of the professors)

of

it

had

not

The radical and

Stijl

seem

(which created to

have exerted


an

irresistible attraction

placed at

who

on the students,

gave

private courses he

in

flocked to the

the apartment a friend

had

"Van Doesburg's preoccupation with

his disposal.

who was

the problems of pure form," says Walter Gropius,

then the director of the Bauhaus, "did not accord with the

which was

ideal of the Institution, in

educate the individual

to

Whatever one may

the interest of the entire community."

think

of

the

caused by Van Doesburg's sojourn

stir

Weimar by no means

(and the discussion on this subject

and

closed),

seems

it

later

this

to

that the vigor of his ideas

episode, violent though

lead

the

to

in

even today,

new insights: may have been, was

also brought

the fire of his eloquence

because

is,

it

publication

Neue

Mondrian's

of

Gestaltung and Van Doesburg's Grundbegriffe der neuen

Gestaltenden Kunst (both Mondrian's work Le

is

a

Neo-plasticisme,

plastique, four

first

in

the

German

Paris

in

three of which

articles,

between 1921 and 1923.

series).

translation of his

general

principe

published

Bauhausbucher

in

de

1920, together with

had appeared

Let us

pamphlet

I'equivalence

De

in

Stijl

reread a few passages

from these essays:

"Neo-plasticism has

its

roots

in

Cubism.

It

could

just

as easily be called the Painting of Real Abstraction, since

the

reality

be expressed by a

abstract can It

achieves what

all

achieve, but has been able to express only

manner. By

their position

and

plastic

painting has tried to

their

in

a veiled

dimension as well

as by the importance given to color, the colored planes

express

in

a plastic

way

only relations

and not forms.

Neo-Plasticism imparts to these relations an aesthetic

balance and thereby expresses universal harmony For the

moment, what

art has discovered

must

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

still

83


55

Jozef Peeters â&#x20AC;˘ Linoleum print â&#x20AC;˘ 1920

be limited

to art itself.

Our environment cannot yet be

realized as a creation of pure

harmony. Art today

the very point formerly occupied by 84

religion.

is

In

at its


deepest meaning

was

religion

natural [to another plane]; to

the transposition of the

practice

in

it

always sought

man and

achieve harmony between

untransposed

nature. Generally speaking, so do Theosophy and

Anthroposophy, although these already possessed the original

symbol of balance. And

were able

this

is

why

they never

achieve equivalent relations, that

to

is

to

say true harmony. "Art,

on the contrary, sought

More and more,

[of art itself].

harmony

this in

its

in

creations,

given inwardness to that which surrounds us until, in

Neo-Plasticism, nature

the

for

may prepare

man and

of

fulfillment

we

[what

in

has

it

nature,

no longer dominant.

is

achievement of balance

This

practice

signal

the

way

end of

the

call] art."

Van Doesburg's book taken from the

also

abounds

general ideas. Here,

in

chapter, are considerations on viewing

last

a work of art which might be read as a synthesis of

Van

Doesburg's and Mondrian's thinking:

"It

must be emphasized that

that

does

viewer

impression

is

one

of perfect

existing

viewer. Although the effect of

seeing a work of art precise

dominant balance

to

means, the details.

which

all

His

the

an impression which not only applies

parts as such, but

relation

in

by

perceive

not

parts contribute, to the

composed

been

has

is

transmitted also to the

between the work it

is

a work

of

art

very difficult to express of art,

it

may be

and the in

words

said that the

viewer's deepest impression can best be defined as the

achievement of a

meaning

and

balance

subjective

between objective

meaning,

both

directly 85


â&#x20AC;&#x201D; penetrated by awareness. He has a sensation of height

and

which are no longer

of depth

in

any way bound

to

natural conditions or to spatial dimensions, a sensation

which

places

viewer

the

in

a

conscious

of

state

harmony, the play of dominant details being no longer perceived. this aesthetic

"Quite possibly

contemplation coincides

with religious feeling or with the uplift of the religious spirit,

since

in

a work of art

that expresses in

or

mind the

itself.

the deepest inwardness

essential distinction that the contemplation

of art

uplift

it is

necessary, however, to bear

is

It

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

contains nothing

the experience of pure art

i.e.,

dreamy

or vague.

contrary: true artistic experience

is

It

exactly the

is

altogether real and

conscious.

"True

experience

artistic

spectator

is

is

never

passive,

obliged to participate, as

it

for

were,

in

the

the

continuous or discontinuous variations of proportions, positions,

lines,

and planes. Moreover, he must see

how this play changes may give rise clearly

which

repeated or non-repeated a

new harmony

of relations

the unity of the work. Every part

will constitute

becomes organized All

of to

into

a whole with the other parts.

the parts contribute to the unity of the composition,

none of them assuming a dominant place

"A perfect balance

in

artistic

in

the whole.

relationships

is

thus

achieved. The viewer, with nothing to distract him, can participate

In

the

same

in

it

wholly."

series of the

Bauhausbucher, Klee published

Padagogishes Skizzenbuch (Book of Pedagogical Sketches)

and Kandinsky Punkt un

Linie zu Flache (Point

Plane). Malevich's stay at the 86

Bauhaus

in

1

and

Line to

926/27 produced


work Die Gegenstandslose Welt (The World Without

his

Object), also published

same

the

in

books published by AAoholy-Nagy, Film

A/1

As

series.

New

Vision:

to

Architecture), they abundantly

reflect

his

major preoccupation for so many years:

and Von Material zur Architektur (The

From Material

what was

to

be

the search for

for the first

a /ere/, Photogrophie,

new

materials,

and through them, access

to

unexplored, often very refreshing, possibilities of plastic expression.

The atmosphere that characterized the Bauhaus has often

been described sors.

to

me

by both students and former profes-

Without a framework devoid of

work none the

harmony between

discipline

and the natural

creation

but a frame-

rigidity,

a gentle anarchy prevailed.

less,

and

play,

inclination

A

between the

fragile spirit of

toward recreation. A

climate particularly propitious to that rare and beneficent

success which the Bauhaus years:

the

was able

to

achieve

between

friendship

exalting

in its

finest

students

and

professors.

The influence of the ideas of the De penetrated

Flemish

Belgium

Peeters, Servranckx, AAaes,

works

executed

having

however, adopting the

group very soon

Stijl

where,

as

early

Van Dooren, and

pure

a

as

1920,

few others

forms without,

geometric

restrictive horizontal-vertical rule of

Neo-Plasticism. It

was

chiefly

in

the Flemish review Het Overzicht, which

appeared from 1921 themselves.

became

to 1925, that

were

They

these artists manifested

spearheaded

co-director of the review at the

by

end

Peeters,

who

of 1922. This

painter published several theoretical articles advocating a

"community

art," a

often expressed

published

in

close relative of the collectivist ideas

by the editors of De

1923 Peeters gave

Stijl.

this colorful

In

an

article

advice: 87


"In front of a

make

work

nothing of

appealed you feel

or not.

understanding

be more demanding of your

better

"Don't ask:

what does

A

"Don't

and what

visit

should

live

with a

as well, you had

intellect.

of art

not a

is

painting cannot speak.

exhibits

the bottom of

painters' studios is

it

few works

'to try to

to

of 'constructed' art

around

have you

to

made

to

complain when

order for you?

does not

it

your expectations? You would do better yourself with your

own

yourself. Artists create

and

offer you the result

Germany Kandinsky,

1921,

to

quickly

geometrical

change

to

evolution,

up

to

surround

paintings, but don't ask artists

a

after

repudiated

invention.

by in

Alfred

an inner impulse

virtue of spirit

H.

of love."

from Russia

return

his

lyrical

gushing and turned Barr,

Jr.

attributes

in

to this

Malevich's influence rather than to an inner sui

generis,

Kandinsky's

of

Kandinsky, seems hardly to have

felt

work.

However,

any personal sympathy

for his Russian colleague. Nonetheless, while certain

dear

What

live

represent your ideas, which are not even clear to

to

In

will

you when you are relaxed.

"Should a work of art be right

get

about.' Instead, you

all

you without giving them forced attention. They

come

can

to treat your-

mean? A work

it

piece of wizardry.

it

I

being

is

whether

true

is

however, you want

If,

self to the luxury of

to

not your intellect that

is

It

but your sensibility. This

to,

it

of 'constructed' art never say:

it.

to AAalevich

forms

can indeed by found scattered through

Kandinsky's work of the years 1922/24, the creative richness

56

Hendrik Nicolaas

Werkman

â&#x20AC;˘

Impression

in

Black

and Gray

â&#x20AC;˘

1923


they manifest

such that these works remain

is

a sense

in

no less gushing and cannot be compared with the sober

and

forms

palette

restricted

we

that

observe

the

in

Suprematist works. It

much more probable

is

whom

with

Klee,

cosmology are very

was

that Kandinsky

he had close

clearly reflected

in

influenced by

many

and

poetics

Klee's

ties.

of Kandinsky's

works of the Bauhaus period.

On

his return to Paris after

a long stay

in

Delaunay

Portugal,

painted figurative works with few exceptions (such as the Propeller),

and was to

only after 1930

return to the paths of pure abstraction

a style closely resembling

in

his

swirling

rhythms of 1912, but much more cerebral. Sonia Delaunay, for her part,

was completely absorbed

It

was

at

about

same began

who had

Freundlich, tints

without

abandoned

AAacdona Id-Wright and

fell into all

worked

in

that

Otto

a style of

flat

deception nor attempt at distinctive

still-life

America after

and

careers,

their

for a long time

treatment, completely

hand,

dresses.

period that Domela and Vordem-

this

berge-Gildewart

the creation of

in

and

multicolored fabrics for scarves, blouses,

their brilliant

figuration.

Morgan

beginnings

in

On

Russell,

the other

back

Munich and

the traps of narrative painting which they

in

Paris,

had

so

courageously condemned.

The period of the mid-twenties was

black hole bright spot.

in It

Polish painter

which the

was

the

see, favorable

I

did not

in

there

in this

was one

"Art d'Aujourd'hui" which the

Poznanski organized at the end of 1925 at

Vantongerloo's,

90

we

artists struggled,

show

the Syndicat des Antiquaires

made

as

expansion of abstract painting. Nevertheless,

to the

Paris,

not,

visit this in

and the

I

fresh

Being absent from

was then at Georges was told about the stir

exhibition

Menton), but

the studios

Paris.

in

(I

it

hope

it

gave the avant-


garde

artists.

eighty-seven

The catalogue mentions 241 artists.

out

single

I

paintings by

names

the

of

Arp,

Baumeister, Brancusi, Bruce, AAarcelle Cahn, Robert and

Gris,

Van

Delaunay,

Sonia

Doesburg,

Domela, Gontcharova,

Vilmos Huszar, Janco, Klee, Larionov, Leger, AAarcoussis,

Miro, Moholy-Nagy, Mondrian, Nicholson, Ozenfant, Picasso,

Prampolini, Alfred Reth, Servranckx, Josef Sima, Valmier,

Vantongerloo,

Villon,

Vordemberge-Gildewart.

regretfully

I

who have

pass over the names of several abstract painters no trace.

left

The anonymously written preface to

be quoted

in

its

entirety.

writing clear. The reader

"What "Not

catalogue deserves simple, the

is

judge for himself:

the purpose of this exhibition?

is

to

may

to the

The thought

show examples

of every

tendency

in

contemp-

orary painting, but to take stock, as completely as

circumstances permit, of what

is

going on

imitative plastic art, the possibility of which

in

non-

was

first

conceived of by the Cubist movement. "History shows that

found absurd at

new forms

first

of art

have always been

and then condemned out

by the public at large.

of

people's eyes are opened, and a least inspire a well-nigh religious

few

of the works at

awe.

"The schools represented here are no exception rule. All the less so is

due

to the

because

more

hand

A day comes, however, when

or less

their novelty of

to

the

appearance

complete lack of any

effort

to imitate things seen, to tell 'a story.'

"Traditional aesthetics has

in

accustomed the viewer

to

for the subject, for the scenario of the

work

front of him. Increasingly since 1911 painters

have

look

first

been eliminating the subject

so as to

liberate their 91


from the

lyricism feel

bound

fetters of reality.

to imitate the

sounds of nature, but instead

arrange sounds inherent painting

music

itself.

attempts

it

The type of

not conceive of the picture

intermediate point between

as an

and

in

shown here does

viewer. Rather sibility

Musicians no longer

to

nature and the

act directly upon sen-

and thereby on our minds by

virtue of

forms

colors alone. Photography, on the other hand,

such an intermediary; so

However, a Bach fugue

not

is

— though

gale's song which Beethoven imitated

Symphony

is

the older type of painting.

is

in

the nightin-

the Pastoral

The paintings shown here are rarely

is.

conceived of as interpretations, but more often as

arrangements whose effect derives from

their internal

organization.

"What "To

is

the purpose of this

relieve

the

of

art

essentially anti-lyrical.

new technique?

weight of

reality,

which

is

Mankind needs an escape from

reality.

"These

share Poussin's conception of painting's

artists

ultimate objective: to give delectation. Their paintings

one of forms and

— though their language — color whose sole aim, like that of

modern music,

the expression of lyricism, the real-

poems

are akin to modern

ization of the

is

dream.

"Music means nothing the

man who

music

if

he

is

is

listens to

having decided

in

who are make much

to those

not deaf it

deaf. Nor can of a piece of

thinking of something else, or

advance

not so enjoy

one of the paintings shown here and laughing, or to look for something which picture, 92

is

it.

to is

To look at burst out

not

in

the

simply to be blind. The viewer should ap-


57

Otto Freundlich • Linoleum print •

1

937

93


proach

this

painting with

internal

stillness

acritical

mood.

of colored

forms

is

to

be

himself

"These pathfinders

in

is

receptive,

necessary

effective,

if

is

it

is

if

to

the play

provoke

in

aim.

sole

its

later.

the art of painting ask only this

presenting their works.

in

a kind of

a

in

mood which

lyrical

Judging the work comes

of you

with

eyes,

his

putting

This attitude

viewer the

the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Is

it

much

too

to

ask?

"They are asking no more than poets or musicians do

when

they ask you to keep

The anecdote

still."

(literature, in short)

was

nevertheless to take

possession of painting again, to dominate

it

as

it

has rarely

when Surrealism swept over Paris. For a few years nothing was to remain of what the theoreticians and the

done,

pioneers of abstract art (they are often the same) had called "inwardness," except a bubble.

and incongruously

precariously

absorb

it

and forget

it

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; for

business of the world which

in

A bubble which

the greater

is

rises

the air that will presently

good

of the real

bluff, ballyhoo, high-pressure

salesmanship. Yet,

in

and super-real realm somewhat bewildered maverick from these

that so of-the-earth-earthy

perceive a

learned Freudian sessions.

brought

to

Surrealism

Dada blends with cloud,

and

his

am

I

in

referring to

particular

with metaphysics,

and

I

in

series of clocks that

went

to

marked a

who had become

which

which navel conjugates both poem was making a

timeless time. With Sophie

his wife,

Strasbourg to execute the

he and

interior

was a

Van Doesburg

decorating of a

cafe known as the Aubette.

It

which the genius of the three

artists battled

94

in

comma becomes

which a

constellation. In Brussels at this time he

Taeuber,

Jean Arp. He

atmosphere

big undertaking

in

with the walls


of the injury

of this building without suffering

numerous rooms

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

and

for the greater

now widowed

good

unhappy

of those

walls,

of these works. The impious act of a philistine

has torn out that fine page of the history of the art of

Taeuber executed

century. At the Aubette, Sophie

a simple, clear rhythm,

in

the purest Neo-Plastic tradition;

Arp drew great forms with ample, flowing perhaps figures,

Doesburg accomplished

room

entirely

Van

works here: a dynamic

his finest

diagonals, and another static room

in

and

horizontal

which were

lines,

or gestures, or lamentations.

hair,

this

reliefs of

plane-reliefs.

vertical

Of

all

in

these there

remain only photographic reminiscences.

Around the year 1924 in

AAiro

abandoned

the realistic style

which he had been painting, characterized by

outlined

and began

forms,

to

lines

paintings

out

turn

and that

represented nothing more than the painter's free fancy. Are they abstract?

In

any case, they invent a world

plastic world, first of

all,

everything surprises: outlandishness, irony,

mischievousness, playfulness. Insolence

futility,

brought an extraordinary freshness

Subsequently the

painting

his

same time more

became

paintings

that

spirit

were

with

this

laughter,

to

few years

modern

art.

very labored, though at

was never to recapture years when he turned out

effortlessly

and eminently

AAax Ernst at

new

forceful. But he

the childish freshness of these

abstract,

a

combined with

is

delicacy, extreme purity with rank impurity. For a AAiro

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

unknown space. Here

with an

period haunted the

paintings

unquestionably

naive,

poetic.

done

in

broad

same realms lines,

of the

works often

approaching that boundary-line where the transposition of nature and abstract composition touch. Sometimes he has reverted to

this

of time, a flighty

style,

never dwelling on

demon

it

for

any length

always calling him elsewhere and 95


waylaying him ina maze of complications. For the Surrealists, according to Andre Breton's dictate, were to paint dreams. But dreams, unfortunately, whether they be Freudian or

otherwise, are

Hence

of the senses,

lies

and therefore

the painting that they inspired, with

talent, could only

be a

but a studied

lie,

claims to be dreaming while wide

which

deceit,

is

in

naturalistic.

debauches For

lie.

of

when one

awake one must

practice

a whole science: the science of

itself

false spiritualists. This adroit taking apart of naturalism to which the Surrealist painters committed themselves was soon to be drowned in the technique of the detail and in a

rank growth of mysteries.

In March 1927, Paul Dermee and inaugurated the literary evenings called the "Sacre du Printemps." This was the name I

of a small art gallery located at

5, rue du Cherche-AAidi (now a flower shop). Here came Marinetti, Walden, Kassak, and Schwitters, among others; here poems were recited in all languages, sometimes to the accompaniment of a

barrel-organ. Every Saturday a lively young

crowd gathered,

in

greater

number than

Montpamasse

the small premises

could accommodate. People clustered around the doorway

and

front of the

in

June 9

we

windows

to

hear the recitations.

Sliwinsky, to the effect that

and would have

to leave.

we had become

undesirable

During the night someone had

painted across the front of the shop "hAerde pour

nouveau, fas d'idiotsF ("To

bunch of

We

had organized a all

fact

that

96

N.

hell

with the

new

I'esprit

spirit!

You

idiots.")

were

H.

On

received notice from the gallery's director, Jean

abstract.

we

series of exhibitions of

Our greatest claim

exhibited

Werkman, a Dutch

to

works which

fame remains

some twenty large printer

plates

the

by

from Groningen. He had


used

was

blocks

stiff

breathed

a remarkable man.

of the period

successfully

wedded pure form and

travel

be a

to

and perhaps the only one which poetry.

He

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

and

he had in

and

of

letters

to

more germs

of

World War

II,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

freedom

published

in

than the great magazines of Paris

and London. He died as

German occupation

during the

lived:

did not need

pure avant-garde enthusiast and

distribute to the four corners of the world

novelty

Werkman

review, The Next Coll, one of the most curious

little

arts

This

town he published

his distant

In

the

into

life

and standard forms.

magazines

to

black-and-white and

to turn out

which

compositions

shop's usual

the

equipment

his printing

multicolored

grappling with a thousand

of his country difficulties,

he

continued to publish pamphlets exalting the freedom of the spirit

in

most varied forms.

its

him, obviously

not

This

is

why

the Nazis shot

knowing what they were doing and this

was

the very

day

having no idea what they were doing, except that

what they were there

for.

happened on

It

Groningen was liberated. The

Cercle

group owes

Carre

et

its

existence

my

to

encounter with the Uruguayan painter Torres-Garcia at an

by Vordemberge-Gildewart

exhibition

A deep years. I

in

January,

1929.

friendship punctuated by quarrels united us for two

He

lived at the

extreme northern end of

lived at the opposite, southern

place on Sundays, and during the week. But that he wrote

volume of

me

I

his

my

see him once or twice

need

to

communicate was such

with

did not always

write at such

to

to

nearly every day.

issue

and

Paris,

come

went

letters full of ideas,

taking

pell-meil,

because

his

I

end; he would

great length.

mine.

I

still

He would get angry

answer them,

or else did not

He was a man

integrity, totally sincere, but of

have a small

thrown onto the paper

of

complete

variable moods, combining 97


great warmth with a pathological touchiness.

He was a

hidalgo with Indian blood.

However

my to

our relationship,

difficult

team

patience, this unholy

his

of fire

obstinacy matching

and water was bound

produce something. Toward the end of the year, after sundry

consulting

artists,

including

Arp,

Mondrian, and

Van Doesburg, we drew up the program for and launched a magazine which was to be ef Carre (Circle and Square).

a

new group

called Cercle

To me, the circle and the square were the sky and the earth as symbolized by the ancient Oriental religions; they formed

a kind of rudimentary alphabet by means of which everything could be expressed with the most limited means. They

evoked prehistoric runes and the early Chinese l-Ching, or Book of Changes. What would come of our venture? Torres Garcia's

enthusiasm was contagious, but

sceptical.

Although

weary

still

young

of the perpetual

(I

was

was

I

not yet

highly

thirty),

Montparnasse carnival

I

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the

was cafe

reputations, the attitudinizing, the endless speeches about art

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

and

was no and

it

I

had a sneaking

longer

seemed

in

season.

me

to

feeling that our undertaking

was something more than this, real life was to be found else-

Life

that

where. However, our meetings, which

Cafe

Voltaire,

and

we

held

later at the Brasserie Lipp,

first

were

ones. Twenty to thirty painters attended regularly,

eighty

members

enabled us

lively

and the

cheerfully paid the monthly dues. These

to bring out the first

March 1930 and

at the

to

number

of the

magazine

in

organize an exhibition the following

month. This exhibition

was

held at an art gallery which has

now

disappeared, at 23, rue de La Boetie, on the ground floor of the very building faithful visitor. 98

where Picasso

lived.

He would come down

in

He was our most when

the morning


and would sometimes remain

the gallery opened,

long time, alone, looking

for a

one or another of the

silence at

in

130 works. The second number of the magazine served as a catalogue to the show, with an article by AAondrian to

cap

realiste

L'Art

it:

plastique et

et

super-realiste

I'art

Among

Neo-plastique).

/a

(la

A/lorpho-

other artists repre-

sented were Arp, Baumeister, Buchheister, Marcelle Cahn,

Charchoune, Jean

Serge

Huszar,

Gorin,

Kandinsky,

Le

Corbusier, Leger, AAondrian, Ozenfant, Pevsner, Prampolini, Russolo,

Stazewski,

Schwitters,

Sophie

Stella,

Vordemberge-Gildewart,

Torres-Garcia,

Taeuber,

van

Otto

Reis,

Vantongerloo, and Werkman. Also participating, though not in

the catalogue, were: Freundlich, Xceron, AAoholy-Nagy,

Hans

and Raoul Haussmann.

Richter,

It

was,

in

short, a

successful coming-together. So successful that the need

when

carry on the good work

felt to

because of

circulation

illness.

was taken

I

was

out of

Vantongerloo and Herbin

took over, founding the Abstraction-Creation group with the not yet scattered elements of Cercle et Carre as a nucleus.

When

the review ceased to appear,

void.

The

first

unexpected

three

sale

elsewhere.

in

the

left

had

AAontparnasse

remember

I

it

numbers had

warm

the

an undeniable an altogether

bookshops and

encouragement

I

received from Robert Delaunay upon the appearance of the

second

He returned

issue.

and

later,

may be

it

et Carre,

and a kind

panied

were

When

it,

I

just

in

list.

few months

of breath of renovation which

to

Paris

in

accom-

this.

1931, after a long con-

the south, the Abstraction-Creation group

been founded.

mailing

abstraction a

not wholly unrelated to

came back

valescence

to

that the interest aroused by Cercle

At the

Vantongerloo

same time

I

had

had been given our

learned of

Van Doesburg's 99


death

The

Davos.

in

came

of Abstraction-Creation

issue

first

off the press just a

year

same

later, printed in the

and

small dusty shop that had brought out Cerc/e ef Carre

where

I

had earned a meager

reader and make-up man. recording these of

I

trivial details:

living

hope

as a non-union proof-

may be

I

forgiven for

are not the palpable traces

a proof of history and the bases, however fragile, of

life

theories?

Abstraction-Creation had a

much wider

influence than

its

predecessor. From 1932 to 1936 an annual cahier presented reproductions and statements by painters.

December

1933,

and

for

Beginning

in

about a year thereafter, paintings

by a few members of the group were permanently exhibited in

premises looking out on a back courtyard off the Avenue

de Wagram.

names

Among

the exhibitors

become

later to

Herbin, Paalen,

Bill,

important:

Reth,

gave a

statistical

breakdown

find that there

down

as follows: 43

Paris),

33

America, 68

50

in

were In

seems

members in

when

that South

the

last

appeared, Europe was

rampant

in

in

in

935,

1

Paris

in

last figure

France (outside of 12

in

Holland,

and one lone member

in

America and Central America

issue

from the abstract realm. of

Abstraction-Creation

a deep slump. Hitlerism

Germany, and many

artists

58 100

in

membership.

The

Switzerland,

totally absent, at this period,

1936,

which appeared

of the group's

the other countries of Europe, It

Ben Nicholson, Calder,

rest of the world.

breaks

Japan.

Van Doesburg, new names which

were 209 registered members

and 207 throughout the

in

also

and Valmier.

Issue No. 4 of Abstraction-Creation,

We

find the familiar

of Freundlich, Gorin, Vantongerloo,

and AAoholy-Nagy, but there were were

we

had already

Wols

â&#x20AC;˘

Drawing

â&#x20AC;˘

c.

was fled

1

947


there. Italy

out

had

lined

humiliated. There

was about

It

was

villified

were

Civil

war broke

by the dictators, appeared

portents on the horizon; night

evil

descend over Europe.

to

moment

at this

abstract

that

America took up the cause

The Association of American Abstract

art.

of

Artists

was also in 1936 that the Cubism and Abstract Art was held at the Museum

was founded exhibition of

up with the Third Reich.

Spain. France,

in

Modern

that year,

Art

monograph by

in

New

and

York,

it

accompanied by

Alfred H. Barr,

Jr.

the important

that bears the

same

title.

Museum of Living Art, Katherine Dreier with the Societe Anonyme (sponsored by Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray), and Hilla Rebay's Museum of Non-Objective Painting (now the

As a matter of

Solomon

fact, A.

E.

Gallatin, with

his

Guggenheim Museum), had blazed

R.

the

trail

long before. These different groups continued to play an

important role by educating the public, particularly the

Anonyme with its regional museums

Societe

traveling exhibitions which toured

the

of

United

the

States

and

had

familiarized Americans with the work of the pioneers of

abstract

art.

The building up, the swift multiplication and

the frequently bold

of the

orientation

collections are certainly

due

American private

large part to these cou-

in

rageous undertakings. Nevertheless, 1936 remains a land-

mark

in

the annals of abstract art largely because of the

publication

of

Barr's

phenomenon from a

book,

the

historical

first

to

deal

and methodical

with

the

point of

view.

At about

and men

this

remarkable 102

time a flood of refugees

of science, of every origin

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

began

to

pour

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

artists, intellectuals,

and including

into the

the most

United States.

War


broke out

plunged

darkness. This peaceful invasion of America,

a nervous and anguished tide,

like

was

Europe, and for five years the Continent

in

in

natural riches later in the

whose

was

leave

to

would become

fruits

in

the

visible only

sudden and prodigious upsurge

of

soil

years

American

painting.

Mondrian, feeling that Paris was too vulnerable, sought

asylum

in

London

1939. His most perfect paintings had

in

been produced from being understood ment.

These

in

1928

1932

to

the

term 'perfect'

the sense of his Neo-Plastic develop-

are works

dimensions,

small

of

generally

square, with lines intersecting at right angles. Their studied

dissymmetry and sign

is

virtually

their

color distribution

canceled

such that the

is

As Europe moved closer

out.

war, and ideas of violence gained headway, the black multiplied

in

both directions as though

to

lines

unconsciously?

to

evoke the bars of a prison.

In

London, AAondrian's canvases brightened again. But most

of the paintings he

began there were

He arrived there in became colored (as 1942), rang out

flew his

the early in

last

blaze

New

York.

The bars now

New

York City,

in

Victory Boogie Woogie,

wonder

in

a lifetime of work

years had strained toward an impossible

perfection with unequalled force

and a

message was best understood

His

in

(Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942/43), and

work. An unfinished thirty

of 1940.

the canvas entitled

into splinters in a final

which for

fall

finished

tenacity.

in

America, thanks

in

large part to the lucidity of Katherine Dreier,

who had been

a defender of AAondrian since

fair,

that his

1

926.

It is

only

therefore,

America should have become the principal

heir to

work. 103


When

new war broke

this

Norway

in

out, Schwitters

himself to the building of the

abandon

had been

Merzbau which he had had

was left to the mercy Norway had forced him England,

in

three

He took

a second time.

to flee

Ambleside, and began

in

its

of the swine. The Nazi invasion

floors,

refuge

to

Hanover. This fantastic tower which he had

in

patiently erected inside his house, piercing through

of

living

a long time. There he again dedicated

for

his

A/lerzbau

over again.

all

The Bible

when you are persecuted

us that

tells

in

one

country you must leave and find another. But do not neglect to

take with you

all

to build, to rebuild

anew

that world belonging to you

who

which

all

For

art, like religion,

if

are born free

itself

the only country

hear

its

that other world

and which

is

belongs

to

passion

in this

world;

nowhere, but

in

home.

spirits feel at

no country,

and the only

who have

call

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; your art, your

your belongings ever

it

is

perhaps

true religion. Only those

that siren's song within them. The

inner riches of the eyes bring out the secret virtues of the

work, and

little

by

little

they begin to speak: they confide

in

who give them their trust; they ally themselves with those who surrender something of themselves. This is what we may call enjoyment, this is what we may call possession. those

And these are simply sympathetic observer Every

artist,

or

own

its

spirit

every work of every

with the

art

saying

of

artist,

establishes,

in

is

itself)

A

an

state art

in

which depends itself,

and which does

the

in

his

is in

absolutely on

shutting out the world

not

depend absolutely

on him, circumstances being what they are. 104

that

Provided, of course, that the viewer

spirit.

him (receptivity

an

ways

truth the co-creator of the work.

absolutely inaccessible way, this contact of the

"a state of grace."

is

other

is in


And more

let

not be said that the eyes of the beholder put

it

work than the

into the

of putting into It

is

in

itself

it.

One never

but a pretext,

receive from ourselves

artist

himself has been capable

gives too in

much

to

a work of

art.

the last analysis, for us to

what was already

in

us.

But

who

does not see that the work goes beyond the one who created

it?

be able

to

It

marches before him and he

catch up with

soon belong

it,

it

will

soon leaves

never again

his orbit,

it

will

another, since he, more quickly than

his

work, changes and becomes deformed, since before

his

work

dies,

to

he dies.

05


PART THREE After 1940

Boogie-Woogie,

Victory

though

Mondrian was buried

in

Brooklyn

open the gates

a

new

to

to

when

unfinished

left

February 1944, seems

in

universe. Youth

and

joy are

superimposed upon the gravity of the Neo-Plastic order. is

It

a painter's Ninth Symphony: an ending and a beginning.

Many

things must disappear. The death of Freundlich

concentration

one

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

is

camp â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

a symbol of

a peace-loving

man

if

this cruelty of history.

When

ended, other names would be missing from the of

abstract

art:

in

ever there the

a

was war

ranks

first

Robert Delaunay, Sophie Taeuber, Kan-

dinsky,

and Mondrian himself would have ceased combat.

At the

same

time,

young germs had burgeoned

and would suddenly For the

moment, the center

where

so

artists,

especially,

may or

of the world

many generous

attended

secret

who

still

New

York,

great number. This one

Mondrian

in his last illness

Leger, Chagall, Lipchitz, Moholy-

his funeral:

Nagy, Ozenfant, Hans

in

visited

was

had found refuge:

energies

were there

judge by those

in

burst forth with the return of freedom.

Richter, Matta,

Max

Ernst,

Marcel

Duchamp, Xceron, Archipenko, Glarner, Calder, Gabo, Kiesler,

and a few others

of lesser renown.

presence of the avant-garde European that occurred

in

as those of Paris

artists,

Thanks

to the

the art events

New

York during the war were as exciting

in its

best years. By

only pick up books

like

way

of proof,

one need

Art of this Century, published

1942 by Peggy Guggenheim whose fabulous collection

now

in

is

Venice, and the catalogue of the exhibition "Masters

of Abstract Art" held at 106

in

Helena Rubinstein's

New Art Center.


The

first

of these contains important texts by Breton, Arp,

AAondrian,

and

Ernst,

Leger, Holty,

George

The

Nicholson.

Mondrian's essay, "Pure

second

contains

followed by texts by

Plastic Art,"

Hans Richter, Carl and Harry Holtzman. An unsigned introductory note Morris, Stuart Davis,

K.

L.

shows Mondrian's influence to look at

places.

in

may be

It

of interest

today:

it

"Abstract art does not appeal to the comparative of the conscious

intellect,

but

subconscious emotions;

the

to it

is

superlative

the

projected

expression of fundamental experience;

embodiment

of the artist's intuition of

the reiteration of concrete

its

life,

appearance

of

the

intuitive

form

the

is

freed from

Beneath the

differences of individual surface are the universals of basic form

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the factor which governs the

of part to part, of part to whole, to the universal

"Any person

know by now

and

environment of which

living

that physical perfection

quantitative or scientific

knowledge

part.

century should

is

is

whole form

forms a

it

the twentieth

in

relationships

of the

an

illusion,

that

merely informa-

an absolute of perpetual incompletion, and that

tion or

aesthetics

as near

is

to

completion or perfection as

we

can come, being the only qualitative form of knowledge which

we

possess.

"Aesthetic pleasure truth,

and

is

our joy

the philosophical reflection of

is

in

this

assurance of a universe

harmonious beyond the power of accident, united rhythm

which

finds

echo

in

our

in

own minds and

feelings."

The

impact

of

Mondrian's

posthumous Victory Boogie

Woogie soon had repercussions

in

Europe. Retrospective 107


exhibitions of his

work were held

Amsterdam

in

Dutch

even though he had

artist,

1914 and from 1919

number of

lived there

is

worth mentioning that an obscure

critic,

to

canvases there which were already recognized

his

work manifested

A

from 1911

1938 and had painted a certain

to

everywhere else as masterpieces of the It

and

(1946)

Basel (1947). Paris, however, remained indifferent to the

in

itself

even

in

art of this century.

hostility to

AAondrian's

Parisian abstract art circles.

very influential at the time but

now

forgotten,

went

so far as to threaten to boycott a large Paris gallery which

was

toying with the idea

— mad

though

summary

presenting to the Parisian public a

Mondrian retrospective that had

museums

of

did obey the

Amsterdam and

exhibition

of

of the great

been held

the

in

the gallery actually

small revenge two years later

his

my

Maeght, with called

exhibition

just

And

seemed

critic's injunction.

Mondrian had Galerie

Basel.

it

was

"Earliest

collaboration,

when

organized

the

the

Masters of Abstract Art." The

divided into "Preliminary Investigations" and

"Flowering of Abstract Art." Canvases by Mondrian were

shown

in

both series and

made

many artists. The critics, however, was

It

not

until

1

957

a strong impression on

ignored Mondrian

— thirteen

entirely.

years after the painter's

death, and after the Hague, Zurich, London, Rome, Venice,

and

Milan

Mondrian

exhibitions

exhibition.

having failed offered

its

portfolio of fully If

to

— that

through, the Galerie Denise Rene this

occasion published a

screen plates of well-chosen works, care-

reproduced.

the situation

in

Paris

was unfavorable

to

meant

to

because the entrenched 108

saw a real Musee d'Art Moderne finally

The ever-reticent

come

premises, and for silk

Paris

critics

Mondrian,

it

was

concentrate

all


work

their attention to the

of

Delaunay (who had died

in

1941) and, even more, to that of Kandinsky (who had died

December

in

were

As

1944).

living

disciples,"

to

be the

was done him by

consider that a disservice

"Kandinsky's

be Kandinsky's

to

them

to

the Paris critics

artists,

who was

appeared

"successor." Magnelli I

for

particularly to decide

brilliant disciple."

right

man.

calling him

For there are no "brilliant

and Magnelli's work can stand on

its

own

merits.

The two painters are as remote from each other, physically

and morally, as Saint Baptistry

always on invention, Magnelli's former, painting had to be

sometimes fair

droll.

under the

It

tzars.

bazaar, and there

One cannot

varied,

of surprises,

full

who

all

in

miraculously pulls

help thinking of an Eastern

more than a

is

little

of the fantastic

Kandinsky's

art.

a painter of this school. While he

quite disposed to indulge

in

play,

it

is

always

in

see

in

the

Florence, near which he art

in

compact form

was

born. His

so

Italy,

is

a highly balanced

which the sometimes heavy grace of the forms

change

color,

monumental

thus

introducing

a

lyrical

note

exhibition of large

into

the

canvases by Magnelli was

the very fine Galerie Drouin, on the Place

This gallery

is

which readily

order.

A remarkable in

we

of the Baptistry of

effectively lightened by the caprice of lines

held

effect:

him the whole gravity of pre-Renaissance

in

is

a measured

way. He betrays no flashiness, no straining for

aptly expressed

from the

And Kandinsky has about him something

element of the Arabian Nights

not at

is

harks back to the Nizhni-Novgorod

still

objects out of his hat.

is

Moscow

on construction. For the

is

rich,

of the fair's sleight-of-hand artist

Magnelli

in

Where Kandinsky's emphasis was

Florence.

in

church

Basil's

played an important role

in

Vendome.

these postwar years 109


despite the briefness of

were seen

the

its

existence. Here,

in

particular,

great shows of Wols, Dubuffet, and

first

Fautrier, as well as impressive retrospectives of Picabia

Kandinsky. Other galleries were to open almost at the

whose mission

time,

in

respect to abstract art

assumed by Kahnweiler

similar to that

for

was

and

same to

be

Cubism before

1914.

These were the Maeght, the Carre, and the Denise Rene Galleries

in

and the Sidney Janis and the Pinacotheca

Paris,

called the Rose Fried) galleries

(later

and

of abstract art,

proliferation

owe

popularization,

in

New

York. The

a certain extent

to

its

a good deal to the activity and to the

daring of these various galleries. Thus the Sidney Janis Gallery brought together very effective groupings of works

by AAondrian, Arp, Pollock, De Kooning, Albers, the Dadaists,

and the first

artists of

shows

Glarner,

the

Diller,

mists. In Paris, the

active

De

The Pinacotheca presented the

Stijl.

works

collected

of

by

Schwitters,

Lissitsky,

Duchamps, and the American Synchro-

Maeght and Carre

galleries

have been

making several young painters known, among

in

whom may be

mentioned Atlan, Bazaine, Ubac, the brothers

Van

Palazuelo,

Velde,

Lanskoy.

Jacques for

the

tended

It

to

the

Poliakoff,

Denise Rene,

Galerie

favor

Herbin, Dewasne, Dayrolle, held Poliakoff's

it

Constructivist

first

exhibited Piaubert, Reth,

E.

oblivion.

As

has from the beginning artists

such as Vasarely,

and AAortensen. Here

exhibition.

and

Galerie Carre, too, that

and Kupka were rescued from

Villon

to

Nejad,

Arnal,

was thanks

too

was

The same gallery has also

Pillet,

and

Le Corbusier, as well

as Magnelli, Arp, Sophie Taeuber, Sonia Delaunay and a

number

of

Constructivist

painters

from other European

countries. In

110

November

1948, irritated by the confusion prevailing

in


the minds of art

regarding the origins of abstract

critics

Monsieur Aime Maeght, suggested

book

a wholly independent

in

spirit

matter under dispute. He gave

to

that

attempting

me

I

art,

write a

to clarify the

three minutes to

up my mind and three whole months L'Art Abstrait, ses origines, ses

me

make

book. AAy

to write the

premiers maitres thus

came

off the press in time for the vernissage of the exhibition

two parts referred

to

above

in

(April 1949).

Overnight, after having been the object of a great deal of solicitude,

became

I

upon

called

the target for

to correct certain

the artists' poor memories, "falsifier."

was

I

thought

to

and

certain

be unshakable, refused

nothing remains of

in

is

a certain sense,

De

Stael

all this

over, the its

attacks. in

I

had

felt

order to rectify

therefore called a

Calumny operates

whose

artist,

for five years until finally he

The battle

was

I

publicly insulted.

insidiously that a

all

biographies

to

friendship

I

shake hands with

recognized

his error.

me

Today

save a few unpleasant memories.

book remains. The present work

free paraphrase

and Wols were

so

had

and

its

is,

prolongation.

the two rising stars of the period

around 1948/49. Both had experienced hard times. Both

were

socially refractory,

Stael

lashed

out

colleagues, and Matisse, else

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

at set

though

in

quite different ways.

everyone, especially at himself a

and Cezanne," he

his

De

painter

very high goal. "Braque,

said to

me one day, "and nobody

nobody."

With such an attitude, he would never "discover" America. It

was America

that discovered him. By the end of 1950,

in

only

a

few private

De

in

and around New York

collections

whose owners were

StaeTs paintings were to be found

greatly astonished that a writer from Paris should be able to

recognize at a distance a De Stael

among

Picassos,

Chagalls, and Juan Grises. They thought themselves to be


.

the only ones

who knew —

through what secret agent?

about the painter's existence.

De

Stael

was

a very

thin

tall,

young man, sharp as an arrow.

made me

The scant esteem he professed for other painters avoid

Moderne,

d'Art

He appeared

soon.

A few weeks

promised myself

I

to

me

later

I

read

which he had reverted

see him again

to

be more lighthearted, almost

to

in

the papers of his suicide

Antibes. Paradoxical being that he was, in

Musee

had a more relaxed conversation than

I

and

usual with him

gay.

One

his studio.

day, at the entrance to the

works

in his last

to the figurative

he completely

repudiated the bright colors of the preceding years. transparent sadness hovered over the

still

in

— A

and the

lifes

seascapes.

was

Wols' unsociability

endowed

philosophy and the into

a form of indolence. But he

abundantly steeped

with,

pit of

mysticism.

the

in,

He

let

them and painting was the drip and splash from

imprint, like Veronica's veil, of a

of abysses

and maelstroms. The

begin only after

his

death

The importance accorded

in

to

and

life

of his

daily

his

have the

had

work was

his

fill

really

951

Wols today appears

times exaggerated. Essentially finely allusive

1

man who

of

himself slump

painful scramble back. Even Wols' tiniest works

to

was

miseries

his

to

me

at

drawings and paintings,

at times anecdotal, derive both from

Surrealism and Paul Klee

lighter

than the

first,

heavier

than the second. Burrowing as they do into the recesses of a tortured

spirit,

liberation that

they visibly tend, toward the

same

lyrical

Kandinsky had so masterfully achieved

1912. But the value of Wols' work, his personal stamp,

perhaps

in

the ever abortive escape,

back upon himself, to 112

be

his

in

(like

is

the perpetual falling

to the point of despair.

followers or

in

Those

who

claim

AAathieu) proclaim him to be


59

Maria Helena Vieira da

60

Silva •

Normandy

Jean Deyrolle

1

949

Croy • 1957


6

"l

Alfred Reth • Rhylhm-Harmonies of Matter

114

and Color

1

957


wing

63

Jean Piaubert

1949

Ur • 1959


Baumeister

64

Willi

65

Serge Poliakoff

African Picture • 1942

Composition

1

957

*mftU>»K


66

Serge Charchoune

67

The Sea

1

950

Jean Arp • Olympic • 1 954


Soulaqes • December

68

Pierre

69

Alfred Manessier • The Ascent of Moissac •

16,

1959

>\.K

Wi

1

959

7


70

71

Gerard Schneider

Jean Le Moal

• Paintinq 69. E

1

and Water

1959

Roofs

960


72

Franz Kline • C. and O. • 1958

73

Jackson Pollock • Circular Shape

c.

1

946


74

75

Clyfford

Jackson Pollock

Still

• No.

• Frieze •

1

• 1941

1953-55


Plowed Earth

76

Fritz

77

Jasper Johns • White Flag •

Winter

• 196

1

955-58


78

79

Leon Polk Smith

Aurelie

Nemours

• Prairie

Blue •

Angular Stone

1

1

960

960


80

81

Victor

Pasmore

Ben Nicholson

Yellow Abstract

• Still Life

1

960-6

(Nightshade) • 1955


82

Georg AAeistermann

83

With the Black •

Arturo Bonfanti • Apparent

Calm

1

1

960

960


87

Jean-Paul Riopelle

Trap •

1

948

William Scott • Composition 39 •

1

959

86


A Round

Gray

88

Alan Davie

89

Antonio Saura • Louise • 1960

in

1

959

mw<*z,


do not have

the greatest painter of this century content, it,

and

It

was

da

my

his

in

emptied

so doing

at

his

it.

about the same period that the quality of Vieira

Silva's

work began

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

compositions

be recognized. She had attracted

to

few years before with a

attention a

series of small

was

typewriter. There

game. But by 1948 and

paintings.

On

"Little

by

the in

this

little,

Portuguese

rhythm

I

artist

had affirmed her

some very remarkable

in

wrote:

embroidering her familiar theme, Vieira

has created an irreplaceable

da

Silva

of

painting.

a

this

card for her exhibit at the

invitation

1949

letters of

a novel charm and subtlety about

stippled

Galerie Pierre

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Lisbon landscapes or pure abstractions

which she executed on paper by means of the

linear

dramatic

authentic spiritual appeal. They have exteriorized

Something

a rare state

art,

which was never

there

is

expressed before: a space without dimensions, both limited

and

limitless,

each element

is

a hallucinatory mosaic of which

endowed

immediately transcends color has a

which

is

own

power which

matrix. Every spot of

charge of pent-up dynamism, the force of

proclaimed by the entire canvas.

"The beauty of the work the

with an inner

its

way

it

bursts forth

lies in its

in

channelized power,

slow motion, so

to

speak.

A

severe discipline, hidden by the easy play and the

seeming improvisation of

line

and

color,

the slightest stroke of her brush which

is

by temperament. Or rather, temperament of Vieira

da

Silva

assumes the form

order, orchestration

things

and that is

in

the case

temperance,

Frontiers, frontiers,

frontiers that delimit nothing,

what reaches beyond

of

determines

never bested

everywhere

arrest no leap:

also within them.

We 129


need only

Such

wait.

the concept that

is

Someone was choking

painting.

in

the

I

read

and now he no longer chokes, even though is

there:

still

the

inner

in this

narrow spaces, the space

has overcome

lyricism

all

limitations."

The years 1949/50 were both

America and

in

sky of art, which that

is

was

display.

In

da

Vieira

fertile in revelations of

new

France. The stars that rose

had become

were

cloudless,

so

talents

the

in

numerous

reminiscent of the crowning-piece of a fireworks

from De

Paris alone, apart Silva,

Bissiere, Lanskoy,

Singier,

in

may be mentioned

Stael, Wols,

Hartung,

and

Bazaine,

Manessier, Soulages, Piaubert, Riopelle,

Dewasne,

Deyrolle,

Vasarely,

Poliakoff,

Atlan,

Mortensen, Schneider, Tal Coat, Szenes, the brothers Van Velde, Gerard Vulliamy, Esteve, and Fautrier â&#x20AC;&#x201D; soon caught

up with and outdistanced by Georges Mathieu. This last, a master of calligraphic swordplay, was to inaugurate a kind

of

painting-in-public

crowds. Endowed with a gift

for

publicity,

calculated

to

lively intelligence

fascinate

the

and a remarkable

Mathieu has circled the globe with

his

and garnered a harvest of success â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a whopper, in the language of the people â&#x20AC;&#x201D; beside which the most ardent "act"

of his painter colleagues lookas

paleas guttering

nightlights.

The direct use of color from the tube onto the canvas, the violent application of paint

produces novel necessarily

popular

change the

style,

"belts

it

drips, no

effects, but a technical process

execun'on that confers

who

and

squirts

in

Nor

spirit.

style.

is

At best,

it

this

the

doubt

does not

rapidity of

can produce a

as far from pure music as a popular singer out."

When one

is

seeking applause, one

is

sure to be the loser. For whatever histrionics are resorted to 130


means

as a

dubious. This Art

content,

its

is

results

are bound

be

to

the lazy way.

and a casual way

a living thing,

is

ahead, the

of getting

AAathieu's theatricality

painting. There

between being and

the difference

all

is

of

it

why Georges

is

removed from American

so far

is

empties

of living

a too rapid evaporation. This

like

seeming. Nonetheless, AAathieu

capable

is

of

charming calligraphies

laid out with a very sure taste. The limitation of colors skilful.

Yet of

many

his

be a talent for stagecraft

canvases are stage shows. One wonders

if

surest

seems

to

belong rather

in

the theater

enamored

real place It

is

only painter

in

he

truly

modern, being

the world to

Georges AAathieu

have succeeded

setting

in

mercenaries,

politicians

ready

lackeys,

his

to

vouch

We

art, or at least of skill.

so logically organized,

heart which

is

for him.

And

this, too,

know what these

amount

to:

their very order.

a

is

a work of

solid fortresses,

worm gnaws

And we

also

to:

One

reminded

is

of a

at their

know whaT

these intelligences having an answer for everything they lack a flaw.

the

and even

philosopher,

his

is

up for

He has

himself a closed corporation of dovetailing interests. his

His

fair.

not without interest to note that

is

AAathieu's

he does not

and masquerading.

of striking attitudes

a booth at a

is

all

at the service of the comic

rather than the tragic muse. Nor too

is

talents, so lavishly exploited, the

woman

amount too sure

of her beauty. I

prefer

And

I

chamber music

hear

many —

clamoring for a return convulsions.

And

these fairground brass bands.

to

strident ones

this

to

too

accompanied by howls,

barbarism with

all

merely theater

is

the appropriate

— mean I

make-

believe. It

is

impossible for

me

(as

I

am

sure

it

is

for you) to

reason 131


otherwise than on the basis ot a certain stage of civilization or culture. For this stage

we not

us. Can He who does

a fact for every one of

is

lay aside reasoning altogether? Hardly.

want

reason does so nonetheless,

to

who

philosopher

did

want

not

Aristotle's

like

Can we

philosophize.

to

recover purity by reverting to a primitive state? Do aspire to the purity of the primate? purity

reverts. Purity

what we are seeking sink

back

Yet

this

is

does not

license,

lie

behind

us.

to

But perhaps

"freedom." There again

we

was

put

into laziness.

simulation of the primitive, or the primate,

There are young painters,

into fashion. in

we

prefer to believe that

something that must be attained, not something

is

which one

and

I

who compose

America,

France,

in

much as

a painting

Italy,

in

in

the

movies an actor composes the character of a cynical oaf,

And

of a misfit.

makes a

this

lot

of waves. So

children,

really

would be prison

is

all

make-believe, for

if

all

these people

"barbarians" (as the painter Appel claims) they

in

have never been put

prison. But painters

simply because they paint.

barism" can freely disport

itself

And

slightest risk.

And this

limits

had continued

and

to

is

why

the "barbarian" himself

disobey

to

be trying

all rules. In

of expansion

to is

paint the frame

infinite

itself.

This

characteristic even of those

American painters who have had almost 132

go

certain of his paintings right onto the picture

space without having had

need

to

1912 Severini

frame. But American painters are at grips with

violent

in

"bar-

frame.

American painting, however, seems

beyond these

that

within the limits of a picture

very careful not to go beyond

frame without the is

good

like

up half the world. Which clearly brings out the

fill

fact that this

were

many waves

one another

that these false misfits, imitating

their entire training


is* r -.

Kumi

90

in

France,

like

Riopelle

and Sam

of the past ten or twelve years

terized

am

seems

pushed

to

to

me to

to

be charac-

gigantism, a

monumentality.

thinking of Rothko, Kline, Clyfford

Kooning, Barnett,

1958

American painting

by a certain roughness pushed

certain self-destructive force I

Francis.

Suga'i •Jishin •

Newman, Stamos, Joan

Still,

Pollock,

De

Mitchell, Gottlieb,

Motherwell. Beside these titans, the painters working along

the banks of the Seine

seem

especially Mathieu, who

nevertheless the most spectacular.

This soul,

is

because

all

which affirms

is

finicky

minor craftsmen

these Americans have a soul, a itself

virile

as such. They do not indulge

in

exhibitionistic artifices!

I

am

by no means unaware of the fact that

for spatial expansion, for total expression brief sign,

is

to

be found

in

same need by means of a this

certain French painters. But 133


they

possess the

smothering

paid

this tithe

snap

Still

controlling

to

One need

only

ardor without

their

the viewer. At

in

harmonies the Americans

to the traditional

their fingers.

Clyfford

of

art

which inspires confidence

it,

compare

Kline to Soulages,

Schneider.

While time speeds dizzily by, and the atom ushers

and the world's dimensions seem

age,

in

new

a

be rapidly

to

banks of the Seine continue

shrinking, the painters on the

offer us a certain "intimism."

I

am

obviously using

a broad sense, to designate a painting which speaks

in

many

a low voice and says

masters

perfect

chamber

in

very different styles, are

shading.

Their

proud and at times

music,

human and

of

visceral with

in

example,

things. Paintings, for

by the brothers Van Velde who, such

to

word

this

resembles

art

Geer,

hieratic with

Bram. Bram van Velde's Paroles,

a volume which appeared shortly after the war, bear a fine

stamp

of sincerity:

common

"The real world with

its

catastrophe. The

seeks

this

weight. Art

artist

is

in his

logic

work

being transformed

an apparatus

trade, education into

pushes us toward

to free himself

for stifling the mind. In

the midst of such horrors, clearly only the

has

how do

But

iife.

virginal expression

limit

nothing

man does

is

into

lies. is

can only be a

sick

134

in

light.

the

sick

men can be

within

There

is

me

color,

We

must realize that

artists.

is

that people

Their suffering

accomplishment of deeds which meaning. The sensitive

man

in

To think of art as a profession,

man

any value. The trouble

reinvest the world with artist

dream

new, without a cage, without routine,

of

wantto be paid. Only pushes them

other people live?

a bath of sun and

without

from

into politics, love into

our civilized

man

life,

how appalling!

the face of his downfall."

so

or the full

of

— Painting


This confession

typical of a certain intellectual climate.

is

Wols might have signed remarkable

is

it

it.

And many

how

But

others.

that works having their origin

a

in

spirit of

anarchy are nonetheless objects of order and beauty, that these children of despair bear upon them

wound, and become

for

no trace of

thousands of people "a consoling

music!"

work has

AAanessier's

this

same

tone,

quiet

same

this

intimate penetration which a certain farcical painter has too easily

as "false mysticism." An art of patient

qualified

investigation

and

can obviously not be

of probing attention

understood by the mountebanks on the public square. But these

whom fame comes

brilliant jugglers, to

generally

unaware

a

may sometimes

turtle's,

so easily, are

even

of the fact that a walking pace,

take one further,

much

further

than the breathless running of a hare.

When Seine

said

all is

remain

forgotten

and done, the painters on painters

their

in

of

charm.

technique,

works preserves a background case of Soulages, there

is

the banks of the

Impressionism

and the climate

of poetry. While, as

not

is

of

their in

the

no lack of strength, violence

is

excluded. Between the most advanced of the French and

American painters who can be compared with them, there is

today a difference

in

climate similar to that between the

French Fauves and the German Expressionists prior

Whether the

it

be by a suggestion of atmosphere (Monet), by

analytical

(Manet),

all

to 1914.

spirit

(Seurat), or the

studied composition

the Impressionist virtues are to be found

in

the

most recent French abstract painting. One has the impression that these artists must

have made the rounds

of the

Musee

du Jeu de Paume many times, admiring Monet's water Thus

Bazaine,

Germain,

Lombard,

Tal

Coat,

lilies.

Bryen, 135


and Vulliamy are

AAanessier, Singier, Le Moal, Prassinos,

recasting Impressionism with 1960 eyes.

mean

I

eyes which

are no longer fixed on the object but attempt to penetrate painting

itself.

This

something about

it

alchemists. Soulages

do not break

an altogether different mystery, with

is

of the vicious (or enchanted) circle of the

and Schneider, with

this circle

but enlarge

The break occurs with the Americans. This

have an impression of imbalance, of

absence

of restraint. There

of measure. This

91

appears as

Marcelle Cahn â&#x20AC;˘ The Black Disk â&#x20AC;˘

ii_

is

1

their fine ardor,

it.

is

why we

loss

liberation here,

clearly

960

in

at

first

of center, of

hence a lack

the works of Guston


92

Max

â&#x20AC;˘ Construction

Bill

(who might be an Impressionist

on the Formula a 2

in

his

way) as

+

b2

it

=

c

2

does

â&#x20AC;˘

1

in

those of Joan Mitchell, who scrambles everything in a kind of delirious Expressionism. One may wonder if these deliriums really liberate. When the deep invokes the deep, though the cries become more and more strident they are

never strident enough and end by not being heard at the violence

becomes a

all;

kind of silence.

There can be no excess within the four sides of a picture

frame, as out

I

have

said.

what goes on

matters;

matters

in

what he has is

whether

I

And an

it

to offer.

am

of committing myself to

is

not up to

me

to try to find

mind.

is

the sign that

artist's

And

It

the only other thing that

capable of receiving it.

I

confess

to

this offering,

experiencing great

pleasure before recent works by De Kooning or Kline. But 137

937


this

does not exclude the altogether different

pleasure

pleasure

derive from works by Soulages or a Schneider,

I

nor that which

feel before certain paintings

I

Thepot, or Glarner.

AAortenson,

R.

single dish,

do not

no

diet.

I

F.

merely

it

by Vasarely,

do not feed on a

myself to a single cuisine,

limit

like

I

all.

stand people capable of

And

so

is

it

liking only

me

hard for

one thing

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

am

I

to

on

under-

and

too

all

often hating everything else.

Many work

artists of in

our day

science or

in

like to find

philosophy; the

philosopher increasingly scrutinize the I

wonder

to

me

if

"osmosis"

this

any

that

is

justification for their

man

of science

phenomenon

a healthy development.

work stands

truly original

irrespective of the influences that

and the

It

of art.

seems

or falls of

itself,

have helped produce

it.

The fact remains that the Duchamp brothers were greatly

absorbed

when

higher mathematics

in

they founded the

Section d'Or. The fact remains that Mondrian read

reread

theosophic Socratic

and

Schoenmaekers, that Kandinsky was steeped that

literature,

philosophers,

Arp

Max

is

imbued with the

Ernst with Freud,

in

pre-

and Herbin

with the Farbenlehre. Likewise, the America painters of the

great

wave

of

1

or at least to

950

all

seem

to

have read Art os Experience

have heard of John Dewey.

It

that the French nonformalists of recent years

the most solid support

It

is

in

is

no secret

have found

Lupesco's theory of contradictions.

Zen Buddhism, however, which exerts the strongest

attraction on both continents.

It

is

clearly understood that

1960s the abstract painter must be fascinated by the that he will find

his

dream

greatest delights

could complain 138

of traveling to Kyoto,

if

this

in

and

in

East,

that he will

Japanese calligraphy. Who

would help

to build a

bridge between


93

Roger-Frangois Thepot â&#x20AC;˘ Drawing on tracing paper â&#x20AC;˘ 1961

East

and West?

and

essential matter,

the time

I

This type of bridge building if

an urgent

one. But most of

see only paper bridges, multitudes of paper

streamers thrown with a

However

was

ever there

is

superficial

light

may be

hand

to

catch a flashy word.

the contacts so far

made, we

must congratulate ourselves that some at least have been

made, encouraged by it

the shrinking of distance.

was Mark Tobey who by

established the

revealed exerted,

its

first

his travels

of

America in

Asia

contact with Oriental calligraphy and

hidden forces. The influence that

(many

In

and sojourns

them very small

in

his

works

format) even outside 139


America, was comparable

to that of the school of

Hans

Hoffmann, a teacher of painting who opened new paths

many young American

talents.

Of

who

those

all

in

Europe

juggle (at times so heavily) with

Zen Buddhism and Taoism, Degottex

Germany seem

Bissier in

painters

Oriental

to

and

me

to

of the

in

France and Julius

be closest

calligraphers

associated with the calligrapher, editor

for

to the spirit of

those

especially

the Shiryu Morita, the

in

magazines Bokubi and Bokuzin. The

sole

difference being that these Japanese artists use only black

and

white. The art of the spot (tache), or Tachisme, the

immediate expression of the

assumed great importance

in

spirit

by the gesture, has

Japan these

last

advanced painters

certainly

provided an effective stimulus for

of

years and

America and Europe have

the most

this

growth.

The works, for example, of Tomlin, De Kooning,

Pollock,

Tobey, Alcopley, Soulages, Schneider, Alechinsky, Hartung,

and AAathieu are very

Bryen,

Tokyo and

of

circles

well

Kyoto,

known

in

the intellectual

where they give

rise

to

a

sometimes strained emulation.

and De Kooning were the two great names

Pollock

American painting when

my

part

I

added

I

Clyfford

Still

impressed by a show of

A

in

in

New

to these,

York

I

was

later to discover that the

Spiritual in Art. "Art

Art

is

an

And elsewhere: "A 140

Parsons Gallery.

work at the Whitney

,

is

whom

I

had not

American philosopher's

formulae at times paralleled Kandinsky's

done

of

1950. For

January 1951 also impressed me.

heard a great deal about John Dewey,

read.

in

having been greatly

his at the Betty

retrospective of Archile Gorky's

Museum, I

was

in

Concerning the

a quality of doing and of what

intrinsic quality of activity,"

lifetime

would be too

is

says Dewey.

short to reproduce


94

in

words a

Julius Bissier â&#x20AC;˘ Ink

drawing

â&#x20AC;˘

1

single emotion." The direct impulse here plays

as great a role as inner necessity, the inner urge (innere

Notwendigkeit, innere Drang)

in

Kandinsky's work.

Dewey

deep and powerful accents. It is not hard to see why American painters and critics were responsive to words speaks

like

in

these: 141

957


"A painting

satisfies

having color and

we

with which

because

light

more

it

who

only

through

it

kingdom

material

external

bear cannot

live

fulfilled

The

organism.

the

to

of

who hunger and

those

is

the

In

Seeking, desire, need, can be

enter

hibernating

for scenes

than do most of the things

are ordinarily surrounded.

art as in that of righteousness thirst

meets the hunger

fully

upon

indefinitely

its

own

substance."

To

tell

the truth,

I

had been forwarned

new American

the painters of the

my

by

friend Fritz Glarner (though his

different direction). But Pollock

and

of the importance of

school as early as 1947

work follows a quite

found the personal contact with

I

De Kooning

be singularly revealing

to

grasping of the meaning of their work. Pollock was a for

whom

Despite

communication was almost anguishingly

his

a mystery

politeness he struck

to himself

me

as one

who

difficult.

much

as

is

in

man

as to others, taciturn, reserved, with an

undercurrent of anxiety. The superimposed network traceries

seem

of his painting, those inextricable labyrinths,

painting is

no

is

way

accident,

to

me to whom

drama

of a

man

the only

way

out of a situation from which there

express the

out.

essential

a

isolated

too

He

the

in

died, like

James Dean,

dead

night,

contribution

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

of to

A man

imprisoned.

in

leaving

an automobile

behind him as

American painting

as did the actor

in

the

for

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

and as

realm of motion

pictures.

Unlike Pollock,

conversations

De Kooning was full

of leaps

voluble,

and seemed

to like

and bounds and unexpected

turns. In his case, too, painting

appeared

to

me

to

be the

direct expression of the person. After his much-publicized flirtation

with a distressing series called

"Woman,"

his

work

has again become the most direct imaginable, a regular wrestling 142

match with the canvas.

Like

Kline,

Soulages,


Schneider, Hosiasson, Stamos, Sonderborg, Santomaso and a

few

De Kooning thus

others,

up with the

joins

art of the

non-conventional sign used by the Japanese calligraphers: that

is,

with Tachisme, the art of the spot.

Tachisme

is

the art of creating a unique, inimitable accident:

fiapax legomenon. However,

otherwise

trolled,

drawn between everyday

life.

accident, must be con-

this

do not see where the

I

art

limit

could be

and the perpetual fortuitousness

of

And perhaps

all

For everything

accident.

is

ephemeral gestures could be considered as

art to the extent

that they are the involuntary expression of our being. They constitute our art of being art with

life

moment human appeal

to

what we

and everything

itself,

enters

deliberation

challenged into

play

anew

the

with

the

when man assumes

consciousness. Only

human can

responsibility as a

are. But this identifies

is

his

his full

work be considered a

true expression of his being, an expression which at the

same time become bilityof I

testimony, proof of existence or a possi-

transcending existence, an immanent transcendence.

wonder

if

Tachisme, an art of the spasm, as close as

possible to a brief orgasm,

from human freedom

as,

is

not at as great a distance

from an altogether different

angle, the preconstrained art of totalitarian regimes. The

one gives too much intelligence

to

instinct

and confuses

sexuality with eroticism, the other assimilates the ideal to

ideology.

Tachisme seems

between

society

individual

tend

to

to

endeavor

and the

can discover

to

achieve a deep cleavage

individual, a in

cleavage which every

himself. Indeed, such cleavages

resemble one another as a spot resembles a spot,

as a cry resembles a

leads to a

kind

of

cry.

Thus nonformal or tachiste art

wayward

universality,

which quickly 143


becomes as boring as

man and

alienated there

Between the

Social Realism.

man

the

totally integrated with society,

a middle way, an extreme center which

is

capable of development and of deepening:

man who

culture of the

not revo/fe

is

totally

(in

it

is

alone

the free

is

Camus'

sense).

This free culture leads to a personal, intimate conception of

the universe which either

expressed

is

place

quite naturally takes

its

and philosophy.

still

and it

is

It

me

to

which does not sooner or

and there in

We

finally,

society, alongside science

laid

that there

an opposition

is

art

in

later resolve itself into composition,

no composition which does not contain forces

is

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

tension

is

in

the case of the artist

Such a culture

same alternative of opposition down in absolute terms, for

the

of composition. This

does not seem

in

geometrically.

or

lyrically

in

other words,

might think

the

of

assuming the figure of a

in

opposition.

situation

today as

painting

in

triptych. In the center

panel stands

Impressionism, which emphasizes the sensorial acuteness

one side stands the American

of the individual artist. To school, with

which

I

would

link

the nonformal schools

in

every country. The third panel would contain the "constructionist" painters in

every country. Thus

I

would describe the

world of abstract art today as divided sensitivity,

uncontrolled

between

style,

From the

first

unreflective expression,

glance

it

is

in

spirit

and sense

impulse,

between

of structure;

and harmony.

clear that the Expressionist

and

nonformal wave (the terms Tachisme, arte nucleare, action painting are also used) the obvious?

galleries, collectors,

of the natural

Yet 144

this

is

is

far

And why should head

in

the lead.

this

And why challenge

wave, helped by so many

and propagandists, start furnished

by

all

not take

advantage

violent sensations?

not the only existing abstract art. "Constructionist"


tww-* 95

Philippe Hosiasson •

.

Gray Painting

1960

145


despite indifference

art,

and

at times hostility, persists with

a calm tenacity alongside of the enormous group

camp.

opposite

deserves consideration.

This

the

in

matters

It

little that the constructionists feel themselves to have been pushed aside by the main current, it matters little that their works do not create a stir, so long as they are known to a few. Johann Sebastian Bach was content to have a single

The situation of the unrecognized

listener.

sense, a privileged one, since

what

is

artist

a

in

is,

underestimated can

only ascend;

whereas what has reached the peak must

resign

descending.

itself to

Also to be reckoned with are the surprises that an

development may hold 1939 was one of the

forms, featherlike It

amusing

is

published of style,"

to

hard he

and

may

revolutionary the artist

try to set

his

nature brings

march

of slender, elegant

work

may

be,

will left

impose them anew. After eccenbehind, the inexorable logic of

man back on

his

two feet and he resumes the

of his fathers, his heart beating time.

is

the art of caressing the canvas, of invading of violently assaulting slightest

But

I

work

however

aside rules and principles, the very

I

like to think

my fond dream â&#x20AC;&#x201D; that certain very good know among the most barbaric nonformalists will it

artists

to note the resurrection of style in their

have been

tricities

stylist

their delicacy.

a few years ago, proclaiming "the death

Italy

in

progress of

in

read a manifesto which some young

However

today.

first

has since become a

impulse,

artist's

Hans Hartung, who before Tachistes and a painter of pure

in store.

it

in

a brief

it

-

painters

I

rediscover

slowly, instead

embrace without

the

preamble.

wanted

to

say a word about the constructionists.

"Grandchildren" of AAondrian and of Malevich (as the nonformalists are the "grandchildren" of Kandinsky), they have 146


â&#x20AC;˘

Maurice Esteve

96

Composition

a heritage to squander or to use wisely. Vasarely,

coming

increasingly to the fore,

the square to pivot into

a

window,

in

and

and

1

is

has lately been encouraging

space, has transformed the trapdoor the

window

AAortensen's work, Malevich's square

dislocated

who

â&#x20AC;˘

acquires

complexity with a sinuous

into

strangeness, line,

a

shimmer.

In

becomes even more and

unexpected

in

at

times

context,

an

obvious nostalgia for the descriptive order. Jean Gorin, for thirty years,

has practiced pure geometry. His finest

works are the very sober and bright 1934 and

in

1960.

Among

reliefs

he executed

in

the young, perhaps the most 147

959


gifted

is

the

in

Thepot. His large gouaches

orchestration

America, Albers

made

A. R. Fleischmann, Frederick

Burgoyne

Diller

who

is

whose output has been In

In

succession. Mention must be

George Terasaki, Leon Smith,

also of

true mastery

and Glarner are the ones who most

assume Mondrian's

brilliantly

show a

whole gamut of grays.

the

of

both hemispheres,

Ellsworth Kelly,

Hammersley, and especially

the earliest

date of them

in

but

all,

small.

we

architects of the canvas.

I

also find shall

some

excellent female

mention only Marcelle Cahn

and Charmion von Wiegand, both of whom knew Mondrian, and Aurelie Nemours, who carries on rather breathtaking explorations

in

the Neo-Plastic realm.

From the beginning, abstract by

its

internationalism, by

ness," as befits a (thus music

Austrian).

in

We

its

art has

been characterized

what we might

call

language which aspires infancy

was

have seen that

centers of abstract

art: Paris

its

Italian, French,

pri6r to

"stateless-

be universal

to

German and

1915 there were three

with Kupka, Picabia, Mondrian,

and Delaunay; Munich with Kandinsky; and Moscow with Larionov, Gontcharova, Malevich, and Tatlin. A little later, during the with

De

First

Stijl,

World War, the new centers were Leiden Zurich

Magnelli, Severini,

and

with

Dadaism, and

Terroruti.

Florence with

Then Paris again came

to

and Weimar became a hive of creative activity through the Bauhaus. Today the main centers are New York, the fore,

Paris, Milan, Zurich,

London, Cologne, and Amsterdam.

Italy,

ever permeable to influences and having

ance

to

97 148

little

fashionable trends, has excellent painters

Fritz

in

resist-

whom

Glarner â&#x20AC;˘ Charcoal sketches â&#x20AC;˘

1

959


dominates

sensitivity

nervous

artists

in

Mattia Moreni, Vedova), a

some

Santomaso,

(Afro,

search

of

Scanavino),

nonformalist values

brilliant colorist (Birolli),

(Burri,

and

also

who, here as elsewhere, do not enjoy

constructionists

the limelight (Reggani, Radice, Rho, Soldati). Capogrossi is

an isolated

He has created a work based on a

figure.

very simple modulus which enables him to approach

all

shores.

Switzerland Zurich

having

Max

"concrete

art."

fortunate

is

the

capital

of

in

considerable achievement every respect similar art." But this

is

paintings

provides a

home

Bally.

In

what we are

are

for the rigorously

Bill's

mathematically

but

Zurich

an arresting body of works by using

use of a barely accentuated

whose

subtlety

lies in

and

find Prachensky

well

within the

known

of Klimt

and In

in

and

Rainer, both tachistes,

range of normal

sensibility.

Paris, follows directly in the

Schiele. Also to

fall

Hundertwasser,

Viennese tradition

be mentioned are Neuwirth

Mikl.

Germany

there are a

number

of abstract painters of

Expressionist tendency, like Bernard Schultze,

and many

Schumacher,

others. There are "uniformist" painters like

me and Dahmen, and

those

who

still

Hoeh-

compose on a theme

the classical manner, like Fassbender, Trier, Winter, Nay, 150

the

relief.

as well as Hollegha and Gustav Beck whose works

more

also

ordered works of Lohse

we find Baier and Max Bill (multiple small Honegger, who lives in Grisons, has

to construct

we

in

calling here "abstract

to

only red or black with variations

Austria

would be a

French Switzerland,

squares) Gottfried

In

This

known,

well

From a single theme dear

managed

who has made

"concrete art" were not

a quarrel over words.

conceived

and Graser.

to

if

Bill,

in

and


98

Mark Tobey

Sumi /• 1957

151


He had been

successor.

died

and

between

grisaille,

retrospective

his

no

left

ease

with

between strong

and

color

A

abstraction.

which was held

large

Stuttgart

in

in

death) showed the whole range

themes

Baumeister's

has

oscillated

lyricism,

figuration

exhibition

1954 (one year before of

work

his

between constructionism and

young,

too

long time the most richly

for a

Germans,

the

of

gifted

who

Baumeister,

Ritschl.

and

great variety

the

of

his

techniques, revealing an inexhaustible creative vein.

we

Holland

In

find painters like Appel,

host of their followers,

are

characterized by their

all

impasto. Corneille, however, does not share

addition to

their frenzy. His

pictorial

his

who

Ger Lataster and a

more

docile lyricism allows him to analyze

discovery so that

we can

share

Bogaert,

it.

another unbound Prometheus, at times achieves fine effects of violence thanks to a sure sense of

him

to

dominate the

believe, as so

use of

all

abstract

Van

Delahaut,

Severen,

seem

to

recently

Lint,

list

the

even

an

names

Mortier, Rets, Dudant,

to

make

greater

of Servranckx,

Van Hoeydonck,

Vandenbranden, and Van

Leblanc, Verstockt,

down isolated points which do not communicate among themselves. Ann Bonnet, who died, was a very fine painter whose compositions is

merely

to set

combine poetry and struction

shows

painting

diversity of gradations. To

Burssens,

seem

others do, that a painting must

the colors at once.

Belgium

In

many

rhythm which enables

gesture. Nor does he

liveliest

likewise

solidity.

This sense of poetry

characterizes

the

works

of

in

con-

Gaston

Bertrand and those of Luc Peire. In

London one has the sense of being far from the Continent,

and American painters are more appreciated than European ones. England

is

an island moored, not alongside Europe,

as one might think, but alongside America. 152

On

the other


hand,

one

New

York (and

thing

geography),

is

closer to Paris than to London. Affinity

language counts

here

flirtation

is

another.

of abstract painting, England is

the

lie

is

In

for

any case,

is

more than in

the field

no more of an island than

de France. Ever since the 1930s Ben Nicholson,

has produced painting which

is

both rigorous and delicate.

Strength and refinement are so intimately conjugated that it

is

difficult

charm.

to

describe

Initially classical,

throughout the world before country. This

is

work without destroying

his

its

was recognized was appreciated in his own

Nicholson's work it

proof enough of the universality of

his

work.

England has other excellent painters: Alan Davie, Terry

99

Luc Peire â&#x20AC;˘Tessa â&#x20AC;˘ 1957


1

00

Josef Albers â&#x20AC;˘ Indicating Solids â&#x20AC;˘

Frost,

1

949

Sandra Blow, William

Wilson, Patrick Heron, and, Victor

The

Pasmore.

Scott,

Roger

latter's

relief

paintings

reckoned

among

tradition.

"By penetrating ever deeper

things,"

Pasmore

the works most important

writes,

self-determination; essential spirit

affirmed 154

in

is

"we can

through

the

it

Avray

in

the

must

be

Mondrian

into the center of

find the reason for their

simplest

revealed. The free spirit of

construction, but

Hilton,

the realm of pure geometry,

in

structures

modern

the

art

is

seeks the support of science.


To proceed from the center of things thinking objectively

and

most cases they are sculptors and

in

outside the scope of

seemed

has

made up

brilliantly in

AAillares,

and

well

Guixart

in

work

falls

abstract painting,

few

years.

It

Barcelona that Tdpies,

revealed

first

known

Madrid.

in

outside of Spain,

themselves.

Later

these

All

and a dramatization

apart: FeVto

who

is

names are now very

and there have been numerous

these go a certain solemnity.

is

their

lag within the past

this

exhibitions there also. These painters of vision

is

Saura, Canogar, and a few others founded the

Paso" group

"El

away from

to shy

the "Dou al Set" group

Tharrats,

that one

book.

this

Spain, which

was

means

fundamental things."

of constructionists surrounds Pasmore,

An important group but

at the level of

seem

to

seek austerity

and with somewhat

of their material,

Two

artists

stand

fond of chiaroscuro, and Sempere

who

fond of geometry.

Around 1914, Portugal produced, an authentic pioneer of abstract art: Amadeo de Sousa Cardoso. It boasts today a group of abstract painters as varied as any other country. must be

Mention

Joaquim

made

of Vespeira,

Waldemar de

Rodrigo,

Goncalo Duarte, Jorge de Bual.

I

my

find to

Oliveira,

Fernando Lanhas,

Costa,

Nadir Afonso,

Vasco Costa, and Artur

surprise that these Portuguese painters

reveal every sort of influence save that of their great patriot, Vieira In

da

Silva

who

Argentina, the "Arte

host

of

artists,

A/lad/'"

none of

com-

lives in Paris.

movement has produced a

whom seems

destined for the

Ocampo, Lhito, Maldonado whose long sojourn in Pettoruti, are good painters. Emilio Buenos Aires has had a deep influence on him, has highest ranks. Muro, Sara Grillo,

established himself

in

Paris since

1953, and has recently 155


returned

to

practiced

in his

pure

the

youth

abstraction

my knowledge,

Brazil nothing essential, to

In

had occasionally

he

in Italy.

the realm of abstract painting. Brazil

itself in

has revealed represented

is

who

Europe by the Negro painter Antonio Bandeira,

in

been active

the past twelve yeats has art

movements

in

the avant-garde

and London, and was

Paris

in

for

also a friend

of Wols.

inevitable that

is

It

such a rapid world survey names,

in

including important ones, have this

I

hope

going

may be

I

into detail

I

been overlooked, and

forgiven. By lengthening the

should have run the

lists

for

and

committing

risk of

the deadly sin of boring the reader.

After

fifty

years of existence, abstract art has

and

classics

minor masters,

its

adventurers. From the very

first,

its

however,

one of two extremes: Kandinsky's

it

central tendency has

Delaunay was it

its

has tended

to

lyricism

the Blaue

in

A

third

and

developed from both. Robert

representative,

first

great its

Reiter period, or that of Mondrian's classicism.

more

its

gods and

tutelary

and we might

call

abstract impressionism.

For the past ten years

abjuring the lyre This vein,

ceased

which

itself) is

which has prevailed

to contribute

Kandinsky

become

save

the

vulgarity,

mutually imitating one another,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which for

a

commonest

one

countries.

anything new. Painters young and old

under one another's

called "other" art

in all

supposedly experimental, has long since

content themselves with falling

lyricism (but a delirious lyricism,

is

it

feels the

spell.

even

So much so that

initially

added

few thicknesses

of

this so-

nothing to

paint

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

has

of things. After having steeped

need

in

for a certain poetry, for the

poetry of a certain slowness, for the beauty of calm works. 156


young as when he proclaimed,

Were Rimbaud

alive today, as

"We must be

absolutely modern," he would say instead,

with the

same

And he would add in

"We must be

boldness, that

it

is

absolutely classical."

time our century took

My

me

report on abstract art does not blind

of figurative

painting.

Kokoschka. Our century

like

I

is

Vuillard,

place

I

to the qualities

like

Ensor,

I

like

sufficiently rich to treat itself to

that painting too, including Surrealism. to

its

the succession of centuries.

However there had

be a painting wholly liberated from dependence on the

figure, the object

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

a painting which

101

like

music, does not

Hans Hartung

â&#x20AC;˘

Drawing

â&#x20AC;˘

1947


does not

anything,

illustrate

incommunicable realms of the

a story, and does not

tell

launch a myth. Such a painting

content to evoke the

is

spirit,

becomes

where dream becomes

thought,

where the

becomes

relationship

Who

venture a definition of modern

will

harmony with himself from

Is

where analogy

being,

and rhythm.

environment, or

his it?

sign

he more at

man?

Is

he eager

is

home

he seeking

detach

to

with lucidity or with

new standards

the informulable? Does he

adapt himself

or does he rebel against

them? Without answering these

questions,

may

fact that

in

be allowed simply

I

is

to call attention to the

regimes the very formulation of

totalitarian

such oppositions

to

me

excluded. This alone signifies for

that these opposites are necessary

and beneficent,

the very

token of freedom. Every form of anarchy must be allowed to art,

every form of license or excess must be given the

possibility of finding a

poses no threat

when

art

is

place within a picture frame. Art

to life,

subservient to the state, well.

does not endanger

it

threatened, so

is

life

Today more than ever

it

is

society;

made

have

number

been

considering

can be said that a

an

common?

to

our time? Does

Is

it

enough this

to

is

evidence of

What do

say that they are

provide a sufficient

various categories? Leaving aside the

link

wave

richness,

art

remains bafflingly

in

as is

life.

diverse

they have all

specific

between the

its

we

find that

variety.

This

which includes so many contradictions, would lead

us to think that our period

periods, that 158

rich

it

of the innumer-

able minor tachiste and nonformal imitators, abstract

made

is

living art

extraordinarily

of categories of abstract art.

in

society. But

art

subservient to

evidence of freedom, and that freedom

We

when

it

is

a composite of a multitude of

has no character of

its

own. But

multiplicity


is

to

a characteristic. And that characteristic

itself in

it

multiple, diverse,

and contradictory. As

man

search of himself, and art

today

image

ways

in

is

which our age succeeds

in

no other period,

which every

mystery. As is

the faithful

is

is

being

in

one of the

itself.

Every

a snapshot of our inner image.

I

for

shows clearly that present-day

It

search for himself,

his

in

theme

is

individualism.

diverting

within

peculiar

stupefying variety reveals something besides a

this

man,

in

of this search. Thus the art of our time

successive work

But

is

an incomparable manner. The men of our time are

said earlier,

attached

is

to

a theme,

discovers or conceals his

artist

in

own

connection with AAondrian,

his

him the entire world.

For the artist of

Impressionist

former times

and

for the

alone that counted.

and

Fauve

it

this

was

holds true for the the isolated

work

were bent on producing a

Artists

masterpiece, on achieving a perfect harmony. More and

today expresses himself through a series

more, the

artist of

of works.

The work

unfold

time

are of

all

in

like

is

a part of a continuity

and tends

a concerto. The creators of

this

to

century

producers of series of works, employing the resources

their

genius to the same, ever-recurring, apparently

inexhaustible theme. In

every other period of art history, the idea

what— had been than the

way

it

is

itself

— the

primary. Today the idea matters less arrived at;

it

is

how

the

that

makes

the

work. This word brings us again face to face with the theme

and

its

infinite

variations.

knowing, of possessing the of

heading

for

it

unhurriedly,

It

is

truth,

no

longer

a

matter of

but of approaching

knowing that the road

is

it,

long,

knowing that the road does not end, knowing that the road is

the end

in

itself.

Art

is

not a certain

sum

of

knowledge, 159


technical or otherwise, but a reality

which reveals It

is

us

itself to

search

in this

and eludes

every

And

it

— that

is in

be

manner

of saying

knows, what everyone tended seen

it

often

so

Thus the art of edly

appear

whole. But

this

its

own

the

be

his

inimitably

own

language, which

what everyone for having

in its

very diversity, after us as a

image

will

will

special idiom,

in

incommunicable expresses

own

its

itself

it

undoubt-

homogeneous

become meaningful

expresses the commonplaces of the

it

its

that

of knowledge,

be unmindful of

to

who come

simplified

this

will

sum

his

same rags, for having heard same tone of voice.

century,

those

to

only insofar as in

in

use, a

is

the

in

repeated so often

the art of today finds

own

and otherwise, which

his

us at every step.

theme which

the

artist discovers, for his

technical will

process of becoming,

at times patient, at times feverish, ever

moving and impassioned intimate identity.

in

style.

Through

spirit

art,

the

without ceasing to be a

mystery. All

the arts

in this

revolution, as

we

problem now

is

revolution

160

know. to

We

tend

integrate

the

to

know

eternal

only

immense this.

values

in

The the

itself.

Revolutions of things.

century have accomplished an

renew the

What

is

air,

they do not change the substance

permanent adapts

itself to

the

new climate.


102

Alberto Burri •

Red

Plastic

Combustion

1957

161


1

03

Afro • Villa Horizon •

~*mb|

1

960

04

Philip

Guston

• Traveler

II

1960


05

Burgoyne

1

06

Diller • First

Ldszld

Theme

-

Moholy-Nagy

35 •

A

1

II

955-60

1

924


gs^jrwy*^^ %*~*^^?>

1

07

Mario Prossinos

08

Brett Whiteley • Untitled •

Pamtinq

1

1960

960


109

110

Zoo Wou-Ki

Edo Murtic

January

6.

Painting •

)

1

960

959


1

1

I

1

1

2

Joan Mitchell

Composition

Robert Motherwell • Afternoon

1959 in

Barcelona •

1

958


1

1

3

Richard Mortensen • After a Serigraph

Gouache

114

Georges Mathieu

1

1

960

958


1

5

Victor Vasarely •

168

S/'r/'s //

c.

1

954


116

7

Hann

Conrad Westpfahl

Trier •

Springtime

Colored Pencil

VI •

1960

1

960

/


118

1

1

9

Joseph Lacasse

Karel Appel •

Red Canvas

Heads

in

the

196

Tempest

1

958


120

121

Louis

van

Lint •

Painting • 1960

Helen Frankenthaler • Svengali • 1961


1

Honegger

• Relief

Study

960

22

Gottfried

23

Richard Paul Lohse • Rhythmic Progression •

1

1

952-59


24

Magic Forms

Grand Canyon

Lorser Feitelson • Spatial

125

Arpad Szenes

1

952

1960


1

26

127

Huguette Arthur Bertrand • Lul •

Andre Beaudin

1

960

The Palaces • 1955


I

128

1

29

Henri Goetz • Postel • 1960

Wilfried

Moser

Painting •

h9Kh Hwl^'' /" i

A

1

960


1

30

3

Pierre Alechinsky • Mr. Stanley,

Gaston Bertrand

Plaza Padro

I

Presume

1

955

1

960


4

LIST

OF ILLUSTRATIONS

• refers to color plates

AFRO 1912, Udine,

b.

Italy; lives in

33V2

Rome

on canvas

Villa Horizon. 1960. Oil

de France,

x 39V2". Galerie

Paris, No.

103

JOSEF ALBERS 1888, Bottrop,

b.

Germany;

lives

in

New

Haven, Con-

necticut

Indicating Solids. 1949, No. 100 PIERRE ALECHINSKY b.

1927, Brussels; lives

Mr. Stanley,

43V4

I

in

Paris

Presume. 1960.

x 48". Collection Gildo

Oil

on canvas

Caputo,

Paris,

No. 130

KAREL APPEL b.

Amsterdam;

1921,

Heads 44 7 /s

in

lives in Paris

the Tempest.

1

958. Oil on canvas

x 57V2". Collection Dr. Pfluger. Thalwil, Switzerland,

No. 119

JEAN ARP b.

1

887, Strasbourg; lives

in

Paris

O/ymp/a. 1954. Collage 1

274

x

1

5 /8".

Collection M. Seuphor, Paris, No. 67

JEAN ATLAN b.

1913, Constantine, Algeria; d. I960, Paris

• Untitled. 1959. Oil on canvas

19 3 /4 x 19 3 /4", No. 49 177


GIACOMO BALLA b.

Rome

1871, Turin; d. 1958,

Little Girl

Running on a Balcony. 1912.

WILLI b.

BAUMEISTER 1889, Stuttgart; d. 1955, Stuttgart

• African Picture. 1942. Oil

21

on canvas

Oil

Moderna, Milan, No. 10

51 7s x 51 7s". Galleria d'Arte

74

x

on canvas

1878". Private collection, Paris, No. 64

ANDRE BEAUDIN b.

1895, Mennecy, France; lives

The Palaces. 1955.

447s

x

Oil

in

Paris

on canvas

63 3 /4". Galerie Louise

No.

Leiris, Paris,

1

27

GASTON BERTRAND b.

1910, Wonck, Belgium; lives

Plaza Padro. 1955.

25 5 /s

Oil

Brussels

in

on canvas

x 31 7s". In the artist's collection, No. 131

HUGUETTE ARTHUR BERTRAND b.

1925, Ecouen, France; lives

MAX b.

Paris

1960. Oil on canvas

Lul.

35

in

x

47V8".

the artist's collection, No. 126

In

BILL 1

908, Winterthur, Switzerland; lives

Construction on the Formula a 2

ll74

x 19

5

/ 8 ",

+

b2

Zurich

in

=

c

2 .

1937. Ink

No. 92

JULIUS BISSIER b.

1893, Freiburg im Breisgau,

Ink

drawing.

1

Germany;

lives in

Germany

957

19 5 /s x 25 5 /s". Galerie Daniel Cordier, Paris, No. 94

ARTURO BONFANTI b.

1

905, Bergamo,

Apparent Calm. 187s

178

1

llaly,

where he now

lives

960. Oil on canvas

x 21 Ve". Galleria Lorenzelli, Milan, No.

83


GEORGES BRAQUE 1882, Argenteuil, France;

b.

Woman

7

x31

51 Vs •

Reading.

Violin

/8".

and

28 3 /s x41

1

91

1

.

Oil

d.

Private collection, Puris, No. 2

Pipe. 1912. Collage

3 /8".

1963, Paris

on canvas

and charcoal

Collection A.L., Paris, No. 3

ALBERTO BURRI b.

1915, Citta di Castello,

Red

Plastic

4972

Rome

Italy; lives in

Combustion. 1957

x 3572". Collection

Henry AAarkus, Chicago, No. 102

MARCELLE CAHN b.

1

895, Strasbourg; lives

in

Paris

The Black Disk. 1960 19 3 /4x25 5 /8". Collection

F.

Graindorge, Liege, No. 91

SERGE CHARCHOUNE b.

1888, Buguruslan, Russia; lives

Ornamental Cubism.

774x21 5 /s". •

Paris

927. Oil on canvas

Galerie Creuze, Paris, No. 46

The Sea. 1950. 1

1

in

Oil

on canvas

9 5 /s x 25 2 /s". Galerie Creuze, Paris, No. 66

ALAN DAVIE b.

1920, Grangemouth, Scotland; lives

A Round 48

x 72".

in

in

London

Gray. 1959. Oil on canvas

Gimpei

Fils,

London, No. 88

ROBERT DELAUNAY b.

1885, Paris;

d.

1941, Montpellier, France

Simultaneous Disk. 1912. 52 3 /4"

in

diameter.

Oil

on canvas

Collection

Mr.

and

Mrs.

Burton

Tremaine, Meriden, Connecticut, No. 5 •

Circular Forms. 1912-13. Oil on canvas

39 3 /s

x 27". Collection

Mme.

S.

Delaunay,

Paris, No. 7

179


Rhythm 579. 1934. 44V2

x

Oil

on canvas

Mme.

57V8". Collection

S.

Delaunay,

Paris, No.

40

SONIA DELAUNAY 1885, Ukraine; lives

b.

in

Paris

• Electric Prisms. 1914. Oil on

canvas

AAusee d'Art Moderne, Paris, No. 8 •

Catalogue cover

for

an exhibition

in

Stockholm. 1916.

Stencil Painting

33

x

17 3 /4". Collection M.S., Paris, No. 9

JEAN DEYROLLE 1911, Nogent-sur-Marne, France; lives

b.

in

Paris

Croy. 1957. Oil on canvas

28 3 /4 x 3674". Galerie Denise Rene,

BURGOYNE 1906,

b.

• First

41

3

Paris,

No. 60

DILLER

New York, where

Theme -

/8x41

3

35.

,/

/8

.

1

he

now

lives

955-60. Oil on canvas

Galerie Chalette,

New

York, No. 105

THEOVANDOESBURG b.

1883, Utrecht; d. 1931, Davos, Switzerland

• Composition.

1

919. Oil on canvas

Private collection,

New

York, No. 29

MARCEL DUCHAMP b.

1

887, Blainville, France; lives

Nude Descending 58 Vs x 35".

New York and

in

a Staircase, No.

Philadelphia

2.

Museum

Walter Arensberg Collection), No.

1

of Art (Louise

1

NATHALIE DUMITRESCO b.

1915, Bucharest; lives

Harmon/ 35

x

in

in

Paris

Yellow. 1958. Oil on canvas

45 5 /s". Galerie

XXe

Siecle, Paris, No.

84

MAURICE ESTEVE b.

1904, Culan, France; lives

in

Paris

Composition. 1959. Charcoal and colored pencil 180

Paris

1912. Oil on canvas

and


7 16 3 /s x 22 /s". Galerie Villand et Galanis, Paris, No. 96

JEAN FAUTRIER b.

1898, Paris; lives near Paris

Nude.

960. Oil on canvas

1

35 x 57V2" Collection de Montaigu,

Paris, No.

48

LORSER FEITELSON b.

1898, Georgia; lives

Magic Forms.

Spatial

in

Los Angeles

1952. Oil on canvas

Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, No.

1

24

HELEN FRANKENTHALER b.

New

1928,

York,

where she now

lives

Svenga//. 1961 Oil on canvas .

52 x 64". Collection Mr. and Mrs. John G. Powers, Greenwich, Connecticut, No.

21

1

OTTO FREUNDLICH 1878, Pomerania; d. 1943, Poland

b.

Linoleum

print.

1937

14 3 /4 x 14 3 /s". Private collection, Paris, No. 57 FRITZ b.

GLARNER 1899. Zurich; lives

in

Huntington, Long Island

Charcoal sketches. 1959

19x1

3 3 /4". In the artist's collection, No.

97

HENRI GOETZ b.

1

New

900,

Paste/.

1960

26 3/8

1

x

York; lives

in

Paris

9 5 /s". Galerie Ariel, Paris, No.

1

28

JEAN GORIN b.

1899, Saint-Emilien-Blain, France; lives

Composition No.

9.

in

Paris

1934. Oil on canvas

34 5 /8 x 45V4". Collection

F.

Graindorge, Liege, No. 42

JUAN GRIS b.

1887, Madrid; d. 1927, Paris 181


Still Life

with Pears. 1913. Oil on canvas

23 5 /8 x 28 5 /8". Collection Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, Meriden, Connecticut, No. 6

GUSTON

PHILIP

1913, Montreal; lives

b.

Traveler

II.

x 72".

64

in

New

York

1960. Oil on canvas

Sidney Janis Gallery,

New

York, No. 104

HANS HARTUNG b.

1904, Leipzig; lives

in

Paris

Drawing. 1947 Private collection, Paris, No. 101

AUGUSTE HERBIN b.

1882, Quievy, France; d. 1960, Paris

Composition. 1939.

1872

x

GOTTFRIED b.

Oil

on canvas

4574". Collection Pierre

Peissi, Paris,

No. 44

HONEGGER

1917, Grisons, Switzerland; lives

in

Switzerland

Relief Study. 1960. Oil on canvas

972

x 972". In the artist's collection, No. 122

PHILIPPE b.

HOSIASSON

1898, Odessa; lives

in

Paris

Gray Painting. 1960 51 7s x 3874". Galerie Flinker, Paris, No.

95

MARCEL JANCO b.

1895, Bucharest; lives

Brighl 1

87s

in

Tel Aviv

Morning Sun. 1918. Painted plaster

relief

x 2774". Collection M.S., Paris, No. 34

JASPER JOHNS b.

1

930, Allendale, South Carolina; lives

White Flag. 1955-58.

5274

Oil

x 78 3 /4". Leo Castelli Gallery,

WASSILY KANDINSKY b.

182

1866,

Moscow;

d.

in

New York

on canvas

1944, Paris

New York,

No. 77


• All Saints' Day.

37 7 /s •

x

Deluge

I.

39 3 /s x 41 •

c.

1

91 0-11

/e".

Kaiser Wilhelm

With the Black Arch. 1912.

Oil

Museum,

Krefeld, No.

1

5

on canvas

Mme. Nina

Kandinsky, Paris, No.

1

7

The Red Spot. 1921. Oil on canvas

54 3 /8 x 71 V2". Lent by d'Art •

on canvas

1912. Oil on canvas 3

74 x 77 V8". Collection •

Oil

.

39 3 /s". Stadtische Galerie, Munich, No. 16

Moderne,

Arrow Toward 39 3 /s x 31

7

/e".

Mme. Nina Kandinsky

the Circle.

to the

Musee

36

Paris, No. 1

930. Oil on canvas

Private collection, Belgium, No. 37

PAUL KLEE b.

1879, Munchenbuchsee, Switzerland; d. 1940, Muralto,

Switzerland •

Abstraction. 1914. Watercolor 4 3 /s x 6 3/4". Fondation Paul Klee, Bern, No. 25

FRANZ KLINE

b.

1910, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; d.

C.

and O.

1

962,

New

York

1958. Oil on canvas

77 x 110"

Collection

and Mrs. Burton Tremaine,

Mr.

Meriden, Connecticut, No. 72

FRANK KUPKA b.

1

1

871 Czechoslovakia; d. ,

9V2

x 25 5 /s".

Arrangement 27 5 /s

x

Musee in

1

957, Puteaux, France

canvas

Disks. 191 1-12. Oil on

d'Art

Moderne,

Paris,

Yellow Verticals. 1912-13.

27 5 /s". Musee d'Art Moderne,

No. Oil

Paris, No.

1

9

on canvas 1

8

JOSEPH LACASSE b.

1

894, Tournai, Belgium; lives

Red Canvas. 961 1

39 3/8 x 31

7

/s"

.

Oil

in

Paris

on canvas

Galerie Jacques Massol, Paris, No.

1

1

8

183


ANDRE LANSKOY 1902,

b.

Moscow;

• Atrocities of the

76 3 /4

lives in Paris

Reds. 1959. Oil on canvas

3874". Galerie Louis Carre, Paris, No. 54

x

MICHEL LARIONOV 1881, Tiraspol, Russia; lives

b.

Rayonism. 191

74

21

27 5 /s".

x

1.

In

Oil

Paris

in

on canvas

the artist's collection, No. 9

FERNAND LEGER 1881, Argentan, France; d. 1955, Gif-sur-Yvette, France

b.

Contrast of Forms. 1913. Oil on canvas

39 3 /s

317s". Musee d'Art AAoderne, Paris, No. 20

x

Serigraph after a mural composition of 1924

6 3 /4 x 9". Galerie Berggruen, Paris, No. 30

1

JEAN

LE

b.

1

909, Authon-du-Perche, France; lives

Roofs

and Water.

39 3 /s

x

b.

in

Paris

1959. Oil on canvas

39 3 /8 ". Galerie de France,

VAN

LOUIS

MOAL

Paris, No. 71

LINT

1909, Brussels,

where he now

lives

Painting. 1960 1

1

874

x

1

337s". Private collection, Brussels, No.

1

20

RICHARD PAUL LOHSE b.

1902, Zurich,

where he now

lives

• Rhythmic Progression. 1952-59. Oil on canvas 1

8

7

/s

x

28 3 /8". Collection

I.L.,

Zurich, No.

1

23

STANTON MACDONALD-WRIGHT b.

1890, Charlottesville, Virginia; lives

Synchromy. 1914.

Oil

on canvas

Private collection, U.S.A., No. 21

ALBERTO MAGNELLI b.

1888, Florence; lives

Sonorous Border. 1938.

184

in

Paris

Oil

on canvas

in

Los Angeles


5772

x

3874". Galerie de France,

Paris, No.

50

KASIMIR MALEVICH b.

1878, Kiev; d. 1935, Leningrad

The Guard. 1912-14.

2272 •

x

267V.

Stedelijk

Supreme. Before 1915. 26

on canvas

Oil

Museum, Amsterdam, No. 22 Oil

on canvas

3874". Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, No. 23

x

ALFRED MANESSIER b.

191

1,

Saint-Ouen, France;

Ascent of Moissac.

• The

1

lives in Paris

959. Oil on canvas

63 3 A x 44 7 /s". Collection Myriam Prevot,

Paris,

No. 69

GEORGES MATHIEU b.

1921, Calais; lives

in

Paris

Gouache. 1958 21 5 /s x 2972". Galerie Rive Droite, Paris, No.

1

14

GEORG MEISTERMANN b.

1911, Solingen,

Germany;

With the Block. 1960.

lives in

Frankfurt

am

Main

on canvas

Oil

18 7 /8 x 2472". Private collection,

Germany, No. 82

JOAN MIRO b.

1893, Montroig, near Barcelona; lives

in

Barcelona and

Paris •

Landscape. 1930.

Oil

Musee

61 x 9072".

on canvas

d'Art

Moderne,

Paris, No.

38

JOAN MITCHELL b.

926, Chicago; lives

1

in

• Composition. 1959. Oil on

Paris

canvas

37 3 /8 x 35 7 /8". Collection Galerie Dubourg,

Paris, No.

1

1

1

LASZLO MOHOLY-NAGY b.

A

1

895, Borsod, Hungary; d.

//.

1

946, Chicago

1924. Oil on canvas

4472

x

52 3 /a". The Solomon

New York,

R.

Guggenheim Museum,

No. 106 185


8 PIET

.

MONDRIAN 1872, Amersfoort, The Netherlands;

b.

Apple Trees 30 3 /4

x

x

Oil

in

on canvas 3

1

on canvas 1

4

Bright Colors with Gray Contours. 1919.

Mme. Arp-Hagenbach,

Basel, No. 28

Composition with Red, Yellow, and 8/ue.

92

1

1

on canvas

Oil 7 1

York

on canvas

Collection

x

/s

8 7 /s". Collection Mr.

1

Rothschild, Ossining, •

Oil

39 3 /4". Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, No.

Composition Oil

Bloom. 1912.

New

42V8". Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, No.

Composition. 1914.

557s •

in

1944,

d.

and Mrs. Herbert M.

New York,

No. 41

Victory Boogie Woogie. 1944. Painting with collage (unfinished)

49 5 /8

49 5 /8". Collection Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine,

x

Meriden, Connecticut, No. 47 RICHARD MORTENSEN b.

1910,

• After

13 x

UW'.

WILFRIED b.

Copenhagen;

a Serigraph.

1

lives in Paris

960. Oil on canvas

Galerie Denise Rene, Paris, No.

1

13

MOSER

1914, Zurich; lives

in

Paris

Painting. 1960. Oil on canvas

35

x 51 Vs". Galerie

Jeanne Bucher,

Paris, No.

1

29

ROBERT MOTHERWELL b.

1915, Aberdeen, Washington; lives

Afternoon

in

in

New York

Barcelona. 1958. Oil on canvas

53 V2 x 72". Sidney Janis Gallery,

New

York, No.

1

1

2

EDO MURTIC b.

1921, Velika-Pisanica, Yugoslavia; lives

in

Painting. 1959. Oil on canvas

39 3 /e 186

x

5378". Galerie Creuze, Paris, No.

1

10

Zagreb


ERNST WILHELM NAY b.

1902, Berlin; lives

Watercolor. 1957 In

the artist's collection, No. 85

NEMOURS

AURELIE b.

Cologne

in

1910, Paris,

where she now

Angular Stone. 1960.

lives

on canvas

Oil

35 x A5 5 /q" Private collection, .

Paris, No.

79

BEN NICHOLSON b.

Denham, England;

1894,

Still Life

38

lives in

Switzerland

(Nightshade). 1955. Oil on canvas

x 50". Collection

Hans

C. Bechtler, Zurich, No. 81

VICTOR PASMORE b.

908, Chelsham, England; lives

1

in

London

• Ye/low Abstract. 1960-61, No. 80

JOZEF PEETERS b.

1

895, Antwerp; d.

Linoleum

8V4

print.

1

960, Antwerp

1920

x 7 2 /q" Collection

Naessens, Brussels, No. 55

.

LUC PEIRE b.

1916, Bruges; lives

in

Paris

Tessa. 1957

28 3 /4

x

39 3 /s". Private collection,

Paris, No.

99

EMILIO PETTORUTI b.

1895, La Plata, Argentina; lives

Harmony-Movement. 1

1

in

Paris

91 4. Charcoal

7 3 A x 22V2". Collection Alberto Sartoris, Lutry,

Switzerland, No. 26

ANTOINE PEVSNER b.

1884, Orel, Russia; lives

Gray Scale.

24V2

x

1

8

7

1

in

Paris

920. Oil on canvas

/a".

Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris, No. 32 187


JEAN PIAUBERT b.

1900, Pian, France; lives

Ur. 1959. Oil

51

Vs

x

in

Paris

on canvas

76 2 U".

In

the artist's collection, No. 63

FRANCIS PICABIA b.

1879, Paris;

1953, Paris

d.

Rubber. 1909. Watercolor

1

7

7

/s

x

24V4". AAusee d'Art AAoderne,

Paris, No.

24

PABLO PICASSO b.

1

881

,

Malaga, Spain;

Bottle, Glass, 1

8V2

x

and

lives

near Cannes

Violin, 1912-13.

24 5 /s" Collection Tzara,

Drawing with collage

Paris,

No. 4

SERGE POUAKOFF b.

1906,

Moscow;

lives in Paris

Composition. 1957.

3874

on canvas

Oil

x 51 7s". Galerie Creuzevault, Paris, No.

65

JACKSON POLLOCK b.

1912, Cody,

New

Wyoming;

• Circular Shape,

2372" •

in

c.

1

1

956, East

Hampton,

946. Oil on canvas

diameter. Sidney Janis Gallery,

Frieze. 1953-55. Oil on

26

d.

York

New York,

canvas

and Mrs. Burton Tremaine,

x 86". Collection Mr.

Meriden, Connecticut, No. 75

MARIO PRASSINOS b.

1916, Istanbul; lives

in

Paris

Painting. 1960. Oil on canvas

63 3 /4x5l78". Galerie de France,

Paris, No.

107

ALFRED RETH b.

1884, Budapest; lives

70 7 /e 188

in

Paris

Rhythm-Harmonies of Matter and Color. 1957 x

6074".

In

the artist's collection, No. 61

No. 73


JEAN-PAUL RIOPELLE b.

1

924, Montreal; lives

in

Paris

Trap. 1948. Oil on canvas

38 Vs

b.

Creuze,

x 51 7s". Galerie

MORGAN

86

Paris, No.

RUSSELL

1886,

New

York; d. 1953, Philadelphia

Sketch from a Notebook. 1912 Collection M.S., Paris, No.

1

ANTONIO SAURA b.

1930, Huesca, Spain; lives

Louise. 1960. Oil on

37 3 /8

in

Madrid

canvas

x 50". Collection

Henry Markus, Chicago, No. 89

GERARD SCHNEIDER b.

1896, Sainte-Croix, Switzerland; lives

in

Paris

Pointing 69.E. 1960

Kootz Gallery,

New

York, No. 70

KURT SCHWITTERS b.

1887, Hannover; d. 1948, Ambleside, England

Merzbild. 1922. Collage 6

7

x 5 3 /8".

/s

Collection

Mr.

and Mrs. Burton Tremaine,

Meriden, Connecticut, No. 45 •

Small

2972 WILLIAM b.

Home

for

Seamen.

1

926

x 21 Va". Lord's Gallery, London, No. 43

SCOn

1913, Greenock, Scotland; lives

Composition 39. 1959. 59 7 /e

x 72". Collection

Oil

in

London

on canvas

Charles Lienhard, Zurich, No. 87

VICTOR SERVRANCKX b.

1897, Brussels; lives near Mechelen, Belgium

Opus 2772

20. 1922. Oil on x

1

7

5

/a". In

canvas

the artist's collection, No. 35

GINO SEVERINI b.

1

883, Cortona,

Italy; lives in Paris

189


Pastel drawing. 1949 1

072

x

1

772". Collection M.S., Paris, No. 62

LEON POLK SMITH b.

Prairie Blue.

39 3 /8"

New PIERRE b.

Oklahoma;

1906, Ada, 1

lives in Florida

960. Oil on canvas

diameter. Collection

in

and Mrs. Arthur Lejwa,

Dr.

York, No. 78

SOULAGES

1919, Rodez, France; lives

December

16, 1959. Oil

in

Paris

on canvas

63 3 /4 x 44 7 /s". Galerie de France,

Paris, No.

68

NICOLAS DE STAEL b.

1914,

St.

Petersburg;

d.

1955, Antibes

Football Players at the Pare des Princes.

1

952.

on canvas

Oil

2278

x 30". Collection

Mr.

and Mrs. Burton Tremaine,

Meriden, Connecticut, No. 51 CLYFFORD b.

1

No.

STILL

904, Grandin, North Dakota; lives

New York

1941. Oil on canvas

1.

8472

in

x 67". Collection

E. J.

Power, London, No. 74

KUMI SUGAI b.

1919, Kobe, Japan; lives

in

Paris

Jishin.

1958

51 7s x

76 3 /4". Galerie Creuzevault,

Paris, No.

90

ARPAD SZENES b.

1900, Budapest; lives

Grand Canyon. 25 5 /s

x 31

7

/e".

1

in

Paris

960. Oil on canvas

Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, No. 125

SOPHIE TAEUBER-ARP b.

1889, Davos, Switzerland; d. 1943, Zurich

Horizontal-Vertical Composition. 1918. Drawing Collection 190

Jean Arp,

Paris, No.

27


Watercolor. 1927 1

5

3

/s x

11". Collection Francois Arp, Paris, No. 33

ROGER-FRANCOIS THEPOT 1925, Landeleau, France; lives

b.

Paris

in

Drawing on tracing paper. 1961 7 1

1

x

/s

1

678". Collection M.S., Paris, No. 93

MARK TOBEY b.

1

890, Centerville, Wisconsin; lives

Sumi 1

S 2 U x 11". Galerie

HANN

Jeanne Bucher,

• Springtime. 1960. Oil on

78 x63 3 /4". Collection

51

98

Paris, No.

TRIER

1915, Dusseldorf; lives

b.

Basel

in

1957. Ink

I.

in

Cologne

canvas C. Scheibler,

Cologne, No. 116

GEORGES VANTONGERLOO b.

1

886, Antwerp; lives

in

Paris

XV Derived from bx + 18. 1930

Composition Y

= ax 2

47

x

4-

2472". Collection

the Equation

Silvia Pizitz,

New

York, No. 31

VICTOR VASARELY b.

1908, Pecs, Hungary; lives

Siris

II.

7 7 /8 x

c. 7

1

1

1

in

Paris

954. Oil on canvas

/8".

Galerie Denise Rene, Paris, No.

1

1

5

BRAM VAN VELDE b.

1895, Zoeterwoude, The Netherlands; lives

in

Paris

Painting. I960. 51

7s

x

63 3 /4". Collection Henri Samuel,

Paris, No.

53

GEER VAN VELDE b.

1

898, Lisse, The Netherlands; lives

Composition.

1

951

.

Oil

in

Paris

on canvas

3372x3172", No. 52 MARIA HELENA VIEIRA DA SILVA b.

1908, Lisbon; lives

in

Paris 191


Normandy. 1949. 16V8

x

on canvas

Oil

8V8". Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, No. 59

1

JACQUES VILLON 1875, Damville, France; d. 1963, Paris

b.

canvas

• Soldiers on the A/larch. 1913. Oil on

25 5 /s x 3674". Galerie Louis Carre,

1

2

WERKMAN

HENDRIK NICOLAAS b.

Paris, No.

1882, Leens, The Netherlands; d. 1945, Groningen,

The Netherlands Impression

27V 2

x

1

Black and Gray.

in

1

923

87s". Collection M.S., Paris, No. 55

CONRAD WESTPFAHL b.

1891, Berlin; lives

Colored Pencil 23 5 /8

x

VI.

in

Munich

1960

3372". Galerie

Raymonde Cazenave, Paris,

No.

BRETT WHITELEY b.

1

939, Sydney, Australia; lives

in

London

1960

Untitled.

40 x 72". Contemporary Art Society, London, No. FRITZ b.

1

08

WINTER 1905, Altenbogge,

Plowed

Germany;

lives in

Kassel

Earth. 1961

5378x66 7 /8 "

No. 76

WOLS b.

1913, Berlin; d. 1951, Paris

Drawing,

c.

1

947

4 3 /4 x 378". Collection John Craven, Paris, No. 58

ZAO WOU-KI b.

1920 Peking;

January

6,

lives in Paris

I960. Oil on canvas

76 3 /4x5l7s". Collection Myriam Prevot,

192

Paris,

No. 109

1

1

7


a

".

there had to be a painting wholly liberated from dependence on the figure, the objectâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; .

.

painting which, like music, does not illustrate tell a story and does not launch a myth. Such a painting is content to

anything, does not

evoke the incommunicable realms of the spirit, where dream becomes thought, where the sign

becomes being..."

So writes Michel Seuphor

in this

history of ab-

stract art, which traces the

unsure beginnings

in

movement from its pre-World War years up I

most recent and extreme stages. Diverse, controversial and revolutionary, abstract art is

to

its

considered by many to be a faithful image of the century which brought it into being, an image of man in search of himself, of man insistent on freedom.

Michel Seuphor is one of the world's leading authorities on the history and development of abstract art. Accompanying his text are full-page color and black and white plates which capture the vitality and variety of the modern masters.

Abstract painting 50 years of accomplishment from kandinsky to jackson pollock (art ebook)  

Abstract painting 50 years of accomplishment from kandinsky to jackson pollock (art ebook)

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