Abstract Art

Abstract Art

A Global History

Book - 2020
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Pepe Karmel reconsiders the history of abstraction from a global perspective and demonstrates that abstraction is embedded in the real world. He surveys artists from across the globe, examining their work from the point of view of content rather than form. Previous writers have approached the history of abstraction as a series of movements solving a series of formal problems. In contrast, Karmel focuses on the subject matter of abstract art, showing how artists have used abstract imagery to express social, cultural and spiritual experience. An introductory discussion of the work of the early modern pioneers of abstraction opens up into an approach to abstract art based around five inclusive themes - the body, the landscape, the cosmos, architecture, and the repertory of man-made signs and patterns - each of which has its own chapter. Starting from a figurative example, Karmel works outwards to develop a series of narratives that is complemented by a number of 'featured' abstract works. A wide-ranging examination of topics - from embryos to the surface of skin, from vortexes to waves, planets to star charts, towers to windows - is interwoven with analysis of works by artists like Joan Miro and Jackson Pollock alongside pieces by lesser-known artists such as Wu Guanzhong, Hilma af Klint and Odili Donald Odita.
""Abstract art is always rooted in experience of the real world." So begins art historian Pepe Karmel's bold new exploration of the origins and evolution of the movement that revolutionized modern art. Traditional histories of the subject have concentrated on formal innovations--abstraction as a sequence of "isms"--with less interest in how the art relates to the world around us. At the same time, these histories have tended to privilege a core group of European and North American artists considered central to the subject's discussion. Moving well beyond the established figures and movements usually associated with abstract art, and focusing on subject matter and content rather than simply color and form, Karmel reconsiders the history of abstraction from a global perspective, showing readers how artists from all parts of the world have used abstract imagery to convey personal, social and political experience. Following an introductory account of the pioneers of abstraction, including Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich and Jackson Pollock, the book forgoes a standard chronological structure to explore the subject through five eclectic, theme-based chapters. "Bodies," "Landscapes," "Cosmologies," "Architecture," ans "Signs and Patterns." Taking a figurative artwork as the starting point for each chapter, the author ranges across a wide array of topics--embryos, star charts and calligraphy among them--all while clearly demonstrating the link between abstraction and the real world. Complementing the text throughout are groups of carefully selected artworks, paired to reveal surprising affinities and significant differences. At the heart of the book is desire to demonstrate new ways of looking at abstract art through the prism of a broader, more inclusive mix of artists, from Vasily Kandinsky to Ibrahim El-Salahi, Carlos Cruz-Diez to Bridget Riley. Anni Albers to Sean Scully, and Julie Mehretu to Wu Guanzhong."--book jacket.
Publisher: London : Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2020
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780500239582 (hardcover)
0500239584 (hardcover)
Branch Call Number: 700.411 KAR
Characteristics: 344 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 32 cm

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