PRINT September 1965

The Biomorphic Forties

Bio: “a combining form denoting relation to, or connection with, life, vital phenomena, or living organisms.”

Morphology: “the features, collectively, comprised in the form and structure of an organism or any of its parts.”

THE MOVEMENTS OF 20TH-CENTURY ART, to the extent that they began with artists’ acts of self-identification, in opposition either to another group of artists or against a public made grandiose and threatening as the Philistines, tend to stay monolithic. Efforts are made to unify these discrete movements, like different shaped beads on a string of “the classical spirit” or “the expressionist temperament,” but obviously this delivers very little, except an illusion of mastery to the users of cliché. More is needed than a revival of the exhausted classical/romantic antithesis, which leaves the movements to be united sequentially undisturbed. Modern art tends to be written

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