The Week in Abstract Art – Revisit, Reassess, Revise
Aug 4, 2016
We all invest in myths. We learn our histories as children then build on what we believe are our roots. Some myths are so strong it takes heroic effort just to get enough perspective to analyze them, to ensure they’re not false. This is a good time to think about history and perspective, because today the world’s tallest observation tower, the British Airways i360, opens in the port town of Brighton. Rising 162 meters, the gleaming, expensive i360 has attracted bitter resentment from some locals, who are considered to be among the UK’s most economically depressed residents. Brighton’s current myths are founded mostly in struggle. The i360 represents a potentially different future myth for Brighton, one that understandably threatens those invested in the past. How many Brighton residents have ever seen their landscape from up high? What future will Brighton’s children imagine for themselves once they soar above their streets and see the sprawling world of possibility surrounding them? This week, in celebration of new perspectives and new possibilities, we bring you four abstract art exhibitions offering alternative viewpoints on some of the many myths surrounding abstract art.
The World is Yours, As Well As Ours at White Cube Mason’s Yard, London
On view through 17 September 2016
In the West, abstract art history begins with Modernism. But in some other cultures, abstraction dates back thousands of years. This exhibition features the work of nine contemporary Chinese abstract artists. Through their paintings, we encounter a perspective informed by an ancient and universal aesthetic unrelated to the styles, trends, movements and theories of the West.
Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings at The Courtauld Gallery, London
On view through 11 September 2016
The myth of history tells us that in the early 20th Century, male artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich created the first Western abstract paintings. This exhibition re-examines that perspective through abstract watercolors made by a female British painter decades earlier. Guided by the departed, with whom she communed as a medium, Georgiana Houghton called her paintings “spirit drawings.” They haven’t been shown in the UK since Houghton first exhibited them to baffled viewers in 1871.
Georgiana Houghton - The Eye of God
Out of Obscurity at Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road, London
On view through 3 September 2016
The photographer Alfred Stieglitz often photographed abstract compositions of clouds. They were among the earliest attempts at photographic abstraction, something once considered oxymoronic. Out of Obscurity features an updated exploration of photographic abstraction, re-examining it from the perspective of contemporary tools and techniques, through the work of more than a dozen international artists.
Out of Obscurity, show at Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road, London
Cy Twombly: In the Studio, Museum Brandhorst, Munich
On view now, end date unknown
Cy Twombly was often misunderstood. During much of his career American critics dismissed his work. But today key examples of the work they ridiculed sell for record amounts at auction. For many of us, the majority of Twombly’s work remains unknown. This exhibition begins rectifying the art market myth of Cy Twombly by offering a complete measure of his oeuvre. It features hundreds of Twombly’s works, including paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures, along with examinations of some of the poems that inspired the large-scale rose paintings he made late in his career.
Cy Twombly - Lepanto, 2001, panel 4 of 12, acylic, wax crayon and graphite on canvas
Featured image: The World is Yours, As Well As Ours, group show at White Cube Mason’s Yard, London