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Neo-Impressionism and the Dream of Analysis

FOR PURPOSES OF SUPPOSITION, one might propose a hypothetical polarity in the alternatives open to modern abstract art, particularly art concerned with color. A cycle does seem to have developed either at extended length or at short if isolated intervals, in which painters swing between a tenuous, soft, transparent, open, and above all luminous form of color, on one hand, while on the other, they tend to adopt a hard, settled, flat, opaque chromaticism, fitted to the containment of color as shape or pattern. Each of these conditions has its structural imperatives, but more importantly, each contains unstable ingredients, revealed whenever its implications are pursued too relentlessly. For then the picture surface either begins to look too amorphous and over illusionistic, or too designed and restricted. Pursuing this antithesis as a model, one can think of such extremes as pressures within

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