Modernism’s Greatest Invention: Abstraction

by Alex R. Travers

For years, curators and art historians have been trying to pinpoint the precise moment when abstraction became embraced en masse. Roughly one hundred years ago, composers, painters, thinkers, sculptors, filmmakers, and photographers collectively took part in a series of rapid shifts happening in the cultural sphere, and their forays into abstraction changed the rules of art. It’s story full of grit and excitement.

Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925, on view at MoMA from December 23, 2012, to April 15, 2013, acts as our narrator for the advent of abstraction as both a historical idea and an emergent artistic practice. With over 350 artworks in a wide range of mediums—including paintings, drawings, prints, books, sculptures, films, photographs, recordings and dance pieces—the exhibition celebrates the centennial of this bold new type of art. Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925, traces the development of artists like Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, and Kazimir Malevich. It also shows the productive relationships between artists and composers—such as Wassily Kandinsky Arnold Schönberg—to paint a portrait of the moment when traditional art was reinvented. With works from private collections around the world on loan, don’t miss this dizzying and electrifying adventure.

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