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Latvian, 20th century, male.

Born 25 July 1922, in Riga, Latvia; died 1 March 1983, in Riga, Latvian SSR (now Latvia).

Painter and theorist. Historical, still-life, cartographic, environmental, and abstract subjects.

Ojārs Ābols distinguished himself in later years by transcending political orthodoxy and stylistic parochialism in his own work and by enabling colleagues and younger artists to do likewise. His studies began under modernist Romans Suta at Riga’s Second Gymnasium ...

Article

Anna Moszynska

Term applied in its strictest sense to forms of 20th-century Western art that reject representation and have no starting- or finishing-point in nature. As distinct from processes of abstraction from nature or from objects (a recurring tendency across many cultures and periods that can be traced as far back as Palaeolithic cave painting), abstract art as a conscious aesthetic based on assumptions of self-sufficiency is a wholly modern phenomenon (see Abstraction).

In the late 19th century, and particularly in Symbolist art and literature, attention was refocused from the object to the emotions aroused in the observer in such a way that suggestion and evocation took priority over direct description and explicit analogy. In France especially this tradition contributed to the increased interest in the formal values of paintings, independent of their descriptive function, that prepared the way for abstraction. In his article ‘Définition du néo-traditionnisme’, published in L’Art et critique...

Article

David Anfam

Term applied to a movement in American painting that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s, sometimes referred to as the New York School or, very narrowly, as Action painting, although it was first coined in relation to the work of Vasily Kandinsky in 1929. The works of the generation of artists active in New York from the 1940s and regarded as Abstract Expressionists resist definition as a cohesive style; they range from Barnett Newman’s unbroken fields of colour to De Kooning family, §1’s violent handling of the figure. They were linked by a concern with varying degrees of abstraction used to convey strong emotional or expressive content. Although the term primarily denotes a small nucleus of painters, Abstract Expressionist qualities can also be seen in the sculpture of David Smith, Ibram Lassaw and others, the photography of Aaron Siskind and the painting of Mark Tobey, as well as in the work of less renowned artists such as ...

Article

Nelson Goodman

Term used in an art context in several ways: in general for processes of imagemaking in which only some of the visual elements usually ascribed to ‘the natural world’ are extracted (i.e. ‘to abstract’), and also for the description of certain works that fall only partially, if at all, into what is commonly understood to be representational. Differing ideas and manifestations of abstraction appeared in artists’ works in the successive modern movements of the 20th century (see Abstract art). As the notion of abstraction in the second sense is always dependent on what the parameters of representation are thought to be, the two terms can be contiguous in definition, raising interesting points for the general theory of reference. For instance, an abstract work is often defined as one that does not represent anything, but not every work that does not represent anything is necessarily abstract. A painting that has a fictitious subject, for example a painting of Don Quixote or Camelot, does not represent anything (for there is no such person or place) but is not therefore abstract. A Zeus-picture or a Paradise-picture is no more abstract than a Napoleon-picture or a Paris-picture. An abstract work neither represents anything nor is representational....

Article

International group of painters and sculptors, founded in Paris in February 1931 and active until 1936. It succeeded another short-lived group, Cercle et Carré, which had been formed in 1929 with similar intentions of promoting and exhibiting abstract art. Its full official title was Abstraction-Création: Art non-figuratif. The founding committee included Auguste Herbin (president), Georges Vantongerloo (vice-president), Hans Arp, Albert Gleizes, Jean Hélion, Georges Valmier and František Kupka.

Membership of Abstraction-Création was in principle open to all abstract artists, but the dominant tendency within the group was towards the geometric formality championed by Theo van Doesburg and by other artists associated with De Stijl. Works such as Jean Hélion’s Ile-de-France (1935; London, Tate), which came to typify the group’s stance, owed more to the post-war ‘rappel à l’ordre’ interpreted by the Purists in terms of a ‘classic’ and ‘architectonic’ ordering of art, design and architecture, than to the biomorphic abstraction derived from Surrealism. During its brief existence the group published annual ...

Article

Filipino, 20th century, male.

Born 1930, in Bohol, Philippines.

Sculptor. Figures, historical subjects, religious subjects, allegory, myths.

Napoleon Veloso Abueva graduated in 1953 from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (UPCFA), where he was mentored by the first National Artist for Sculpture, Guillermo Tolentino. He received another scholarship from the Fulbright/Smith–Mundt Foundation and in ...

Article

Jorge Luján-Muñoz

(b Guatemala, Jan 7, 1933).

Guatemalan painter and printmaker. From 1954 to 1957 he studied at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Guatemala City while researching folk art for the Dirección de Bellas Artes, but he was virtually self-taught and began as a draughtsman and painter of bullfighting scenes. In 1958 he travelled to New York on a Guatemalan government grant, prolonging his stay there with further grants, studying at the Arts Students League and Graphic Art Center, and finally settling there permanently. He was influential in Guatemala until c. 1960, but because of his long residence abroad his work did not fit easily in the context of Central American art. Before leaving Guatemala he had painted landscapes and nudes in a naturalistic style, but he soon adopted a more modern idiom partly inspired by aboriginal Guatemalan subjects. After moving to New York, and especially from 1958 to 1961, his art underwent a profound transformation as he sought to bring together elements of abstract art and Surrealism and experimented with textures, for example in cross-hatched pen-and-ink drawings such as ...

Article

Ađalsteinn Ingólfsson

(b Reykjavík, Feb 4, 1922).

Icelandic painter, writer and designer. He studied engineering in 1941–2 at the University of Iceland, Reykjavík, and architecture privately. He then studied at the Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts (Myndlista-og handíÐaskóli Íslands), Reykjavík (until 1943), the Kongelige Kunstakademi in Copenhagen (1945–6), the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris (1947–8) and with Marcel Gromaire in Paris (1949–50). He promoted the movement towards abstract art in Iceland in 1948–52, particularly in its theoretical aspects.

Ágústsson came to geometric abstraction through an interest in Renaissance compositional theory and the theories of the Bauhaus. His meeting with Victor Vasarely in Paris in 1953 encouraged him to continue with a highly reductive series of paintings on which he had embarked shortly before. Later that year Ágústsson was one of the organizers of the Autumn Exhibition (Haustsýningin), the first group show of geometric abstraction in Iceland. At its opening he gave a lecture that became a kind of manifesto for the movement. He followed it up with a series of articles in the cultural review ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Active in the USA from 1933.

Born 19 March 1888, in Bottrop (Westphalia), Germany; died 25 March 1976, in New Haven (Connecticut).

Painter.

Post-painterly Abstraction, Op Art.

American Abstract Artists (AAA).

Josef Albers joined the fine art academy in Berlin in 1913. He trained as an art teacher there in 1915, before continuing his studies at the school of applied arts in Essen from 1916 to 1919 and in Munich. In 1920 he became a student at the Bauhaus, which had just opened in Weimar the previous year. In 1923, just before the Bauhaus moved to its new premises in Dessau, Gropius appointed him a teacher, initially in the stained glass workshop on the basis of experiments he had been conducting since 1921 in ‘pictures of coloured glass’, and then in the furniture workshop, where he created industrial prototypes, most notably an armchair made from shaped laminated wood, dating from 1928. In 1928 Albers took over management of the preliminary course (‘Vorkurs’) founded by Johannes Itten....

Article

French, 20th century, male.

Born 12 February 1914, in Baugé (Maine-et-Loire).

Painter.

Marcel Albert emerged as an Informal Abstract painter in 1951, showing his work in solo exhibitions, and group exhibitions with other Informal Abstract artists.