Coulisses des signes : Colonizing Abstraction: MoMA’s Inventing Abstraction Show Denies Its Ancient Global Origins

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Shouldn’t the most authoritative of our cultural institutions, certainly those renown globally, be so sensitive as to represent the history of international art with the like mindedness of diplomats to mitigating the injuries historically wrought…

« (..)How much trouble this glaring chauvinism will cause the museum and its curators is yet untold. What is telling, speaking volumes really, is the clear and intended resistance of the museum’s administration to abandon the Greenbergian claim that abstraction is a European and modern invention. That’s Clement Greenberg, the American art critic who championed the Abstract Expressionists, the first great American school of modernist art, while denying the movement referenced any of the historical and global sources that many of the artists–Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Sam Francis, et. al.–claimed to have inspired their art. As late as 1980, this kind of proclamation could still be called ill-informed. Today, it is outright belligerent. There can barely be an educated admirer of art alive today who doesn’t recognize that abstraction is so ubiquitous that it escapes our notice when lacking the focus to seek it out. It should also be pointed out that the only reason that modern Europeans came to isolate and thereby pronounce the features of abstraction is because some five centuries earlier, Europeans (and some other classical cultures, such as China and Japan) began to distinguish between art and artifact in ways that « elevated » the art of mimicking the appearance of nature in pictures and sculptural embodiments above the more utilitarian crafts–thereby separating painting and sculpture from the creations within which abstraction, as both a practice and a principle (however unconsciously realized), remained integrated. « (..)

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