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Abstraction (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art)by Maria Lind
Synopses & Reviews
This anthology reconsiders crucial aspects of abstraction's resurgence in contemporary art, exploring three equally significant strategies explored in current practice: formal abstraction, economic abstraction, and social abstraction. In the 1960s, movements as diverse as Latin American neo-concretism, op art and "eccentric abstraction" disrupted the homogeneity, universality, and rationality associated with abstraction. These modes of abstraction opened up new forms of engagement with the phenomenal world as well as the possibility of diverse readings of the same forms, ranging from formalist and transcendental to socio-economic and conceptual.
In the 1980s, the writings of Peter Halley, Fredric Jameson, and others considered an increasingly abstracted world in terms of its economic, social, and political conditions — all of which were increasingly manifested through abstract codes or sites of style. Such economic abstraction is primarily addressed in art through subject or theme, but Deleuze and Guattari's notion of art as abstract machine opens up possibilities for art's role in the construction of a new kind of social reality. In more recent art, a third strand of abstraction emerges: a form of social abstraction centered on the strategy of withdrawal. Social abstraction implies stepping aside, a movement away from the mainstream, suggesting the possibilities for art to maneuver within self-organized, withdrawn initiatives in the field of cultural production.
Artists surveyed include: Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, Amilcar de Castro, Paul Cézanne, Lygia Clark, Kajsa Dahlberg, Stephan Dillemuth, Marcel Duchamp, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Günther Förg, Liam Gillick, Ferreira Gullar, Jean Hélion, Eva Hesse, Jakob Jakobsen, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Wassily Kandinsky, Sol LeWitt, Piet Mondrian, Bruce Nauman, Hélio Oiticica, Blinky Palermo, Lygia Pape, Mai-Thu Perret, Jackson Pollock, Tobias Rehberger, Bridget Riley, Emily Roysden, Lucas Samaras, Julian Stanczak, Frank Stella, Hito Steyerl, Theo van Doesburg
Writers include:Alfred H. Barr Jr., Ina Blom, Lynne Cooke, Anthony Davies, Judi Freeman, Peter Halley, Brian Holmes, Joe Houston, Fredric Jameson, Lucy R. Lippard, Sven Lütticken, Nina Möntmann, Gabriel Perez-Barreiro, Catherine Quéloz, Gerald Raunig, Irit Rogoff, Meyer Schapiro, Kirk Varnedoe, Stephan Zepke
"Anthologized by critic and curator Lind, this engrossing compendium offers a banquet of insight into the theoretical underpinnings of abstraction in contemporary art. Lind broadly frames abstraction as the employment of varying degrees of extrapolation or withdrawal from concrete representation. This extensive formulation allows her to include subject matter spanning from post-Impressionist painting, through Russian Suprematism, to contemporary installation artist Liam Gillick. She loosely marshals these 26 excerpts and essays under three interrelated headings: formal, economic, and social abstraction. Weighty philosophical excerpts from canonical theorists such as Lucy Lippard and Fredric Jameson are juxtaposed with artists' musings, pieces of conceptual satire, and politically charged manifestos. Interwoven throughout the texts is a rich conversation on how abstraction is informed by socio-historical and political phenomena. For example abstraction is formulated as a critical response to the exploitation of migrant workers, capitalistic conformity, and the increasingly immaterial abstraction of global finance. Lind deals admirably with this bounty of material, and her attentive curation makes for a remarkably cohesive collection in which specific themes or artists receive treatment across multiple essays. This volume's array generates a multidisciplinary appeal, making it an excellent introduction for anyone intrigued by the theoretical and socio-historical concerns that imbue some of the modern art world's less transparent creations. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Maria Lind is Director of the Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm, and a former Director of the Graduate Program at Bard College's Center for Curatorial Studies. She discusses her work in the book Selected Maria Lind Writing.
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