New York

“Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925”

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

FEW EPISODES IN THE HISTORY OF ART attract so many origin myths as the history of abstraction. As a plotline, it’s hard to beat—an intoxicating, utopian rhetoric of a revolutionary new beginning through art—and ever more entrenched now that it can be consigned to a distant past: After all, abstraction is more than one hundred years old. Marking that centenary, the ambitious exhibition “Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925” provided no exception to that narrative, but offered a more nuanced and considered version that speaks very much to our own time and to current cultural anxieties (as origin myths always do). Curator Leah Dickerman traced a complex social network of originating “connectors” distributed across multiple metropolitan centers in Europe and the US. The show bore the same signature style as Dickerman’s cocurated earlier and highly successful Dada (2006) and Bauhaus (

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