How many exhibition works:
The modernism informing Geometric Abstraction, as filtered through the Greenbergian lens, opened a formalist critique presenting a new reality distilled to its purest, most basic structure ⎯a seemingly impossible utopian vision comprising a pure and harmonious expression of space, color, light, and design. Informed and permissible aesthetic debates on an artwork’s perceived merit (or lack) focused on this reductive plasticity as form, as opposed to content, given modernism’s wholesale rejection of the need to paint or sculpt “something” or represent or illude to anything outside of itself.
In hindsight, we might now position Greenberg as an astute content marketer with a sentient’s instinct for America’s post-war psyche and its collective need, at least among its intellectual elite and emigree community, to seek shelter from the horrors of the real world in the transcendental recesses of color and geometric form. Save one couldn’t say so. Copping to an art practice that heeded metaphysical impulses would be blasphemously un-American in its anti-heroic leanings and hence best to cloak said mystical yearnings and aspirant depictions of the divine in the argot of physics and mathematics.
Circumspect topics and cultural discourses do shift over time as evinced by the long-overdue recognition and recent exhibitions of artists such as Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim, Agnes Pelton at the Whitney and LACMA’s current showing of the Transcendental Painting Group (TPG). Throughout these artists’ oeuvres one intuits a conscience rejection of the temporal in favor of a focused preoccupation with the imaginative realm as a means to access the idealistic and the spiritual.
The curators of The New Math propose a number of artists working today whose aims closely align with those of the transcendental painters, and who as quoted by TPG artist Raymond Jonson, seek “to carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world… and widen the horizon of art”. Though their approaches, methods and outcomes when dealing with their plastic problems vary from a scientific balancing of the elements involved to an emotive expression of the creative urge itself, overall they share an overarching metaphysical motivation and an aspirant vision that reflects upon the cultural developments, philosophical arguments and societal divides of our time.
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