Dick Bengtsson

Moderna Museet | Stockholm

Dick Bengtsson painted his last swastika in 1972. It materializes in the four closing panels of the Domburg Suite, which he fashioned after Piet Mondrian’s progressively abstract versions of a church façade in Domburg, Holland. The creditability of modern abstraction, as Mondrian and others conceived it, had long since reached its low-water mark: In 1964, Donald Judd declared, in “Specific Objects,” that relevance had become a stranger to painting and sculpture; Roy Lichtenstein’s Red Painting (Brushstroke), 1965, downgraded its emotional content to something reproducible at will; and with Joseph Kosuth’s “Art After Philosophy I and I I,” 1968, the final undoing of modern art seemed at hand. While Bengtsson’s verdict on modernism’s upshot came a few years late, his retrospective shows that it was also more piquant and emotive than those current in New York in the ’60s. As Domburg Suite

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