New York

Nicola De Maria

Galerie Lelong & Co.

Among the familiar approaches to abstract art—the decorative, the metaphysical, and the Minimalist—the decorative has long been regarded as the least substantial. It is also the least theorized. The metaphysical abstractionist is viewed as conveying information from or intimations about other ontological realms. The Minimalist is doing the exact opposite, attempting to show materiality in all possible directness without any metaphysical overlay. But what does the decorative abstractionist do? Make wallpaper or wrapping paper designs? When Barnett Newman’s first solo show was received as “decorative,” he was so mortified that he did not exhibit his work again for five years.

Nicola De Maria’s paintings have been interpreted repeatedly by U.S. critics as unabashedly affirming the decorative, while Italian critics tend to associate his work with the metaphysical tradition of the sublime, but

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