Mondrian to Ryman: The Abstract Impulse

Mondrian to Ryman: The Abstract Impulse


Mondrian to Ryman: The Abstract Impulse
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street), New York City
June 11–September 19, 2004

Mondrian to Ryman: The Abstract Impulse, an exhibition drawn from the Guggenheim's collection, will be installed on two ramps of the Guggenheim Museum concurrently with Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things. The 29 modern and contemporary paintings and sculptures in the show provide both a context and complement for Brancusi's purified sculptures. By reflecting Brancusi's early 20th-century aesthetic milieu and exploring his influence on Minimalist art of the 1960s and 1970s, Mondrian to Ryman presents juxtapositions and connections both formal and historical.

The impulse toward simplification and abstraction is a common thread between early 20th-century abstraction and Minimalism. Pioneers of abstraction such as Vasily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian in the first generation, as well as Naum Gabo and László Moholy-Nagy in the second, broke with prevailing modes of illusionism and representation. They aspired to convey utopian notions—of spirituality, beauty, and social and political change—in a universal visual language of essential forms, colors, and materials.

For Minimalist artists, Brancusi's purity of form, and especially his establishment of the pedestal as a work of art in itself, opened up a new way of thinking about art objects. By radically reducing the illusionistic possibilities of sculpture, artists such as Carl Andre, Donald Judd, and Richard Serra created art that exists in space without referring to anything beyond itself. Many painters, such as Agnes Martin and Robert Ryman, inflected their art with a subtly meditative sensibility that owed much to the earlier abstract modes of Kandinsky, Mondrian, and others.

Seen here in dialogue, these artists provide a range of contexts for Brancusi's work and express disparate views of the meaning of abstraction throughout the 20th century.

This exhibition has been organized by Carmen Giménez, Curator of 20th-Century Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

June 10, 2004
Jennifer Russo, Public Affairs
Telephone: 212/423-3840

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