Monday, September 7, 2009

The Ballad Of Piet The Neat And Jack The Dripper

Fig. 1. Piet Mondrian - New York City I (1941-42)

'The paradoxes of abstract art run deep. At its best (and most interesting) it is the manifest sum of its formal and conceptual tensions - a sometimes sober, sometimes sizzling alliance of quotidian means and immaterial aspirations, in which order and disorder, relativity and universality, immanence and transcendence are repeatedly invoked, frequently juxtaposed, and occasionally reconciled by a profusion of defiantly unique pictorial dialects. For some, these essentially private idioms are unconscionably arcane, proof that abstract art is a pointless, wilfully hermetic practice, hell-bent on maintaining the aesthetic and discursive obscurantism that, from very its inception, has kept it severed from its natal contexts and deprived it of any real capacity to modify the way we think and feel about the social environments in which we live. For others, abstract art’s hermeticism is a sign of its autonomy, not its insularity - a mark of its aptness as a vantage point from which to image the experience of modernity, not an indicator of its solipsism or indifference. According to this view, the mature work of Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock had - and still has - the ability to both challenge and change its audience. Question is: can abstractionists speak to all of us, or are they nothing more than a ragtag confederacy of self-obsessed monads?'

Lucio Crispino (from An Infinity of Discrete Orders and Indiscreet Disorders: The 'Hermeticism' of Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock's Late Abstractions)