PRINT May 1979

Pictures of Art

For J.H.W.

IF THE CONVICTION of abstract painting can be said to have revived during the last few years, that revival has not been easily accomplished. In excavating down to its foundations, however, it would appear that abstraction has rediscovered certain principles, about the relations between contained rectangular forms and their containing rectangle, that were first stated in the preabstract painting of the later 19th century, and that trace back further to fundamental organizing procedures in Western art. Even revolutionaries like Malevich and Mondrian, when they concentrated on such specific issues as the rotated rectangle or the pure rectangle “framed” by pure painting, seem to have been taking up specialized features of that tradition.

The High Renaissance marked an assumption of full control not only over the plastic rendering of the figure, which in itself had Byzantine roots,

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