Tag Archives: Abstract Art

Abstract Art: ‘Collage’ By Willem De Kooning (1950)

Sotheby’s – Head of contemporary Art, David Galperin reflects upon how Willem De Kooning makes the impossible possible in Collage (1950) one of De Kooning’s most pivotal abstract paintings, which has been in the private hands for more than seven decades. Undoubtedly, Collage is a key painting within De Kooning’s color abstraction series, marking the beginning of a style that would define his work for decades to come.

Willem de Kooning was a Dutch-American abstract expressionist artist. He was born in Rotterdam and moved to the United States in 1926, becoming an American citizen in 1962. In 1943, he married painter Elaine Fried.

Art Events: Hilma Af Klint At Swedenborg In London

The Temple: immersive virtual reality experience

Hilma af Klint dreamt of a spiral-shaped building to house her most important works. According to her notebooks, she wanted it to be built on an island in Sweden but the idea never materialized, and the temple remained an imaginary creation – until now. 

More than a century later, af Klint’s vision has been translated into an immersive VR experience. It takes you on a cosmic journey from the Milky Way, through spirals in nature and into a few of the artist’s most important paintings, some of them even coming alive. 

Hilma af Klint sometimes referred to her temple as a church for a new era and at other times called it a museum. The exact meaning remains open to interpretation. At the same time, her paintings were clearly intended to lead the viewer to levels of awareness beyond that of everyday life. Was it really a physical building she had in mind? Or was it a spiritual site – something existing in another dimension? 

Perhaps her temple, simultaneously spiritual and physical, could not be realised because she did not have access to the right medium. She had no knowledge about the technological possibilities that were to come, and the idea remained on paper. Today things are different. Hilma af Klint’s temple, inspired by the teachings of Christian Rosenkreutz, has arrived with the help of VR. You are invited to enter another world. 

Hilma af Klint The Temple was conceived by Daniel Birnbaum and Kurt Almqvist and directed by Marika Stolpe. The experience was produced by Acute Art and published by Stolpe Publishing. Creative Director – Rodrigo Marques. Music – Andrew Sheriff.

Watch video below for more on Hilma af Klint:

Art History: ‘Picasso & Sanyu – Modern Masters’

Pablo Picasso is perhaps the Modern master most admired by Asian artists. His commitment to breaking with tradition resonated deeply with Chinese modernist pioneer Sanyu. In this episode of Expert Voices, our Head of Modern Art in Asia, Felix Kwok, introduces masterworks by both artists, which will headline our upcoming Beyond Legends: Modern Art Evening Sale (18 April | Hong Kong). ‘Nu Avec un Pékinois’ is a masterpiece from Sanyu’s post-war period that reflects themes of love and perseverance and ‘Buste de Matador’ from the 1970s is the first painting in Picasso’s final Matador and reflects an urgency in the face of mortality.

Exhibitions: ‘Kandinsky’ At The Guggenheim Bilbao In Spain (Nov ’20 To May ’21)

As a pioneer of abstraction and a renowned aesthetic theorist, Vasily Kandinsky (b. 1866, Moscow; d. 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France) is among the foremost artistic innovators of the early twentieth century.

In his endeavor to free painting from its ties to the natural world, Kandinsky discovered a new subject matter based solely on the artist’s “inner necessity” that would remain his lifelong concern.

In Munich in the 1900s and early 1910s, Kandinsky began exploring the expressive possibilities of color and composition, but he was abruptly forced to leave Germany with the outbreak of World War I, in 1914. The artist eventually returned to his native Moscow, and there his pictorial vocabulary started to reflect the utopian experiments of the Russian avant-garde, who emphasized geometric shapes in an effort to establish a universal aesthetic language. Kandinsky subsequently joined the faculty of the Bauhaus, a German school of art and applied design that shared his belief in art’s ability to transform self and society. Compelled to abandon Germany again when the Bauhaus closed under Nazi pressure in 1933, he settled outside Paris, where Surrealism and the natural sciences influenced Kandinsky’s biomorphic imagery.

More so than any other artist, Kandinsky is intertwined with the history of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, established in New York in 1937. Industrialist and museum founder Solomon R. Guggenheim began collecting Kandinsky’s work in 1929 and met him at the Dessau Bauhaus the following year. This exhibition draws from the foundation’s extensive holdings to illustrate the full arc of Kandinsky’s seminal career.

Curator: Megan Fontanella

Organized by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist. Kandinsky is generally credited as the pioneer of abstract art. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa, where he graduated at Grekov Odessa Art school. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics.

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Artist Profile: Chinese-French Abstract Painter Chu Teh-Chun (Video)

The 1960s were a turning point for Master Chinese Artist Chu Teh-Chun. In this latest Sotheby’s video, discover how he abandoned his traditional figurative style of painting in favour of abstraction. Learn how his painting ‘Composition’, created in 1961, perfectly executes the concept of Chinese painting whilst meeting the style of Western abstraction.

Chu Teh-Chun or Zhu Dequn was a Chinese-French abstract painter acclaimed for his pioneering style integrating traditional Chinese painting techniques with Western abstract art. Chu Teh-Chun enrolled in the National School of Fine Arts, where he studied under Fang Ganmin and Wu Dayu.

Artist Profiles: Abstract Expressionist Robert Motherwell (1915-1991)

September 2020

‘Motherwell was one of the finest American painters of the 20th century, most definitely,’ says Dedalus Foundation CEO Jack Flam. ‘His paintings mix raw energy with a spiritual gracefulness that sets them apart.’

Few artists were as intrinsically connected to Abstract Expressionism as Robert Motherwell (1915-1991). Unlike Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, whose stars burned brightly but briefly, Motherwell remained prolific throughout his 50-year career. He was a searching artist whose output, though determinedly abstract, was also hugely varied.

Motherwell’s ‘Elegies to the Spanish Republic’ series is widely regarded as the high point of his career, with examples found in several major museum collections — they have consistently achieved the artist’s highest prices at auction too.

On Motherwell’s death in 1991, the eminent art critic Clement Greenberg wrote that ‘although underrated today… he was one of the very best of the Abstract Expressionist painters’.

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Artist Profile: Russian Abstract Painter Wassily Kandinsky (Sotheby’s)

Wassily Kandinsky
Wasslily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky is widely considered one of the key artists in the development of 20th century abstraction. In this video, discover how an ability to see colours as sounds, and a fascination with spirituality in art, led Kandinsky to his breakthrough. Our upcoming cross-category ‘Rembrandt to Richter’ Evening Sale (28 July | London) features two jewel-like works by Kandinsky. ‘Murnau – Schloss Und Kirche II’ is an oil from Kandinsky’s sought-after 1908-1911 period. ‘Ohne Titel (Komposition)’ from 1914-15, is an exquisite watercolour in which Kandinsky finds harmony in colours that represent spirituality and intense passion. Both works come from an outstanding family collection of works from the European avant-garde.

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky (1866 – 1944) was a Russian painter and art theorist. Kandinsky is generally credited as the pioneer of abstract art. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa, where he graduated at Grekov Odessa Art school. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics.

Arts: Chinese Artist Chu Teh-Chun – “Symphony Of Abstraction” (Sotheby’s)

Making its auction debut, ‘Les éléments confédérés’ is the only five-panel work by pioneering Chinese artist Chu Teh-Chun and the largest oil painting by the artist remaining in private hands. In this video, view the monumental work set to the piece of music it was inspired by – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and discover how the choice of five panels relates to Chinese philosophy.

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Top New Art Books: “Alice Trumbull Mason – Pioneer of American Abstraction”

Alice Trumbull Mason Pioneer of American Abstraction - Rizzoli May 2020The first comprehensive publication exploring the life and art of pioneering American abstract artist Alice Trumbull Mason is perfect for audiences eager to discover unsung yet brilliantly talented women artists.

A groundbreaking artist, Alice Trumbull Mason (1904-1971) was one of the earliest painters of the twentieth century to embrace abstract painting in America. Mason’s early paintings have been compared to those of Gorky, Kandinsky, and Miró, and in 1936 she became a founding member of the American Abstract Artists (AAA) and one of its leaders in the promotion of abstract work by artists such as Josef Albers, Ad Reinhardt, Piet Mondrian, and many others. Mason was a true artist’s artist whose efforts helped lead to the great movements of later twentieth-century art, such as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Post-Modernism, and Conceptual Art.

Rizzoli BooksAlice Trumbull Mason features essays that illuminate and contextualize the artist’s multifaceted work and personal life through her paintings, prints, poetry, and letters. The book reveals the full life story of a seminal abstractionist, making a sound argument for adding her to the annals of great twentieth-century artists.

About The Author

Elisa Wouk Almino is senior editor of HyperallergicMarilyn Brown is professor emerita of art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Tulane University. Meghan Forbes is a postdoctoral fellow in the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Will Heinrich writes about art for The New Yorker and the New York TimesThomas Micchelli is an artist, writer, and coeditor of Hyperallergic WeekendChristina Weyl is an art historian and curator with a focus on midcentury American printmaking and women artists.

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Abstract Art Profiles: “City Landscape – 1955” By Joan Mitchell (1925-1992)

Joan Mitchell, City Landscape, 1955, oil on linen, 203.2 × 203.2 cm (Art Institute of Chicago 1958.193, ©The Estate of Joan Mitchell), a Seeing America video

Speakers: Sarah Alvarez, Director of School Programs, Art Institute of Chicago, Beth Harris, and Steven Zucker