Abstraction: the creation of a mental universe where the idea has as much reality as the material object; where painting addresses itself to the spirit. From 1910 onward Wassily Kandinsky studied the dynamics of colors and the concrete, geometrical elements of painting. At the same time the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian researched the orthogonal simplification of the form of an object such as a tree, while the Russian Malevich expressed in his paintings fascination with the void, ending up with the ultimate Suprematist composition, a white square on a white background (1918). For these artists art is before all else spiritual, yet paradoxically they also influenced the Russian Constructivism of Tatlin and Rodchenko, a movement proclaiming the utilitarian nature of art in the revolutionary period around 1920.

Another important element in the development of Abstraction was the foundation of the Bauhaus. Set up by the architect Gropius in 1919 in Weimar, it was a school where artists and designers taught together, influenced each other, and shaped the future of European art and architecture for generations to come. By the Second World War the work of Paul Klee, a major Bauhaus personality, represented the confluence of the creative heritage of artists like Malevich, Kandinsky and Mondrian, but in terms unique to Klee himself. After the war, in the USA artists were developing toward a lyrical, gestural Abstraction that dominated world art for some time. The film also features the work of Moholy-Nagy, El Lissitzky, Naum Gabo, van Doesburg and many others.


Part of the series The Adventure of Modern Art



Director: Carlos Vilardebo
Writers/Narration: André Parinaud: Carlos Vilardebo

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Catalog number #497

53 minutes Color

Age Range: 15 to Adult

Closed Captions and Interactive Transcript

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