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Purchase the Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe exhibition catalogue.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection of Non-Objective Paintings
Published in 1938
122 pages, fully illustrated
The exhibition Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection of Non-Objective Paintings took place at the Gibbes Memorial Art Gallery (now known as the Gibbes Museum of Art) in Charleston, South Carolina, in the spring of 1938, one year before the Museum of Non-Objective Painting opened in New York. The catalogue, which was published in conjunction with the exhibition, is organized into color and black-and-white reproductions of 193 nonobjective paintings and 82 drawings and paintings with an "objective departure," totaling 275 works by artists such as Rudolf Bauer, Robert Delaunay, Vasily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, and Pablo Picasso. When compared with the previous year's publication of the Guggenheim collection, the 1938 catalogue demonstrates how quickly the collection was expanding during this time. Museum director Hilla Rebay's acerbic catalogue essay on the value of nonobjectivity reveals her spirited personality and strong opinions on art. Artist biographies are also included.
It is spirit, cosmic order, and creation of beauty which originates the work of art. Seeing a circle does not imply sensation or memory of any known meaning or happening. The circle does not stand as a symbol for some material object, or subjective thought. It is simply a perfect form with beauty of shape, as realized in the appearance of the sun and moon, fifty thousands years ago, by cavemen, who certainly had never heard of geometry. Geometry uses some artistic forms for its intellectual descriptions, but creates no organizations of beauty with these artistic forms. Non-objective art, therefore, is not geometrical, nor is geometry art.
Fidelity to the materialistic world seems very wonderful to many who consider it the sum total of art and believe that almost anyone can make circles and cubes. But these basic forms, like the keyboard of a piano, are to be used only as mediums for creating spiritual values and for conveying and uplifiting, rigorous beauty of measure and line.