James Abbott McNeill Whistler
The exhibition include more than 150 pivotal works by some of the most influential pioneers of modernism, spanning 50 years when paintings, drawings and prints edged their way by degrees towards purely non-representational images. It displays representative works of more than 40 of the leading artists of the late 19th and 20th centuries including Whistler, Monet, Cezanne, Matisse, Munch, Gauguin, Picasso, Kandinsky, Klee, Derain, Denis, Marc, Duchamp, Braque, Bonnard and Mondrian among others.
curated by Terence Maloon
'Remember that before being a war-horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote, a picture is essentially a plane surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order.' Maurice Denis, 1890
One of the most ambitious exhibitions the Art Gallery of New South Wales has ever undertaken, Paths to abstraction will include more than 150 pivotal works by some of the most influential pioneers of modernism, spanning 50 years when paintings, drawings and prints edged their way by degrees towards purely non-representational images.
Curator Terence Maloon has secured representative works of more than 40 of the leading artists of the late 19th and 20th centuries including Whistler, Monet, Cézanne, Matisse, Munch, Gauguin, Picasso, Kandinsky, Klee, Derain, Denis, Marc, Duchamp, Braque, Bonnard and Mondrian among others.
These works are from 59 institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Museu Picasso Barcelona; Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou; Tate Modern; Tate Britain; Kunstmuseum Bern; J Paul Getty Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum as well as private collections.
In the first decades of the 20th century, a radical new approach to art emerged almost simultaneously across Europe and the United States: abstraction. Yet abstraction was never a ‘movement’, it didn’t originate in one place, nor was it practised by one cohesive group of artists. So how had these artists arrived at such a convergence?
How had abstract art taken root so quickly? Paths to abstraction explores the avant-garde movements and artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that preceded and paved the way for purely abstract art. 1912 Non-representational paintings are first shown in a large, mixed exhibition in Paris. A senior member of the municipal council writes an open letter to the Ministry of the Arts protesting at ‘the housing of such horrors in a national monument’. The controversy becomes so heated that the disputed works are shown on the Gaumont newsreels. But abstract art has its defenders as well.
Media Information and Interviews: Susanne Briggs
(02) 9225 1791 or 0412 268 320
Image: František Kupka Discs of Newton (Study for ‘Fugue in two colours’) 1912
Media preview Thursday 24 June 2010, 11am
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week
Art After Hours Wednesday nights until 9pm
Admission: $20, $15 concession