Ornament and Abstraction by Markus Bruderlin

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Ornament and Abstraction: The Dialogue Between Non-Western, Modern and Contemporary Art by Markus Bruderlin
Contributions by Ernest Beyeler, Dieter Bogner, Markus Bruderlin, Philippe Buttner, Oleg Grabar, Samuel Herzog, Claus Pias, Annemarie Schimmel, Hans Zitko and others

4to. pp. 255. profusely illustrated. bibliography. artists' bibliographies. hardcover. dw. (fine condition). Koln: DuMont & Fondation Beyeler, [2001].

Published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, Basel and distributed by Yale University Press.

ISBN-10:‎ 0300092261 / ISBN-13: 9780300092264


This book is an in-depth study of this major theme in 20th century art history. It begins with the innovative pictorial conception of Philipp Otto Runge, whose early 19th century paintings featured the last genuine form in the history of ornament, the arabesque. The arabesque had an influence via Symbolism (Maurice Denis, Paul Gauguin) and Art Nouveau (Henry van de Velde, Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann) on painting's move towards abstraction (Vasily Kandinsky, Frantisek Kupka, Adolf Hoelzel), which resulted on the one hand in a non-figurative, geometric structure of lines (Mondrian), and on the other, in the swirls of Matisse and Jackson Pollock. Side by side with the "royal way" of Cubism, arabesque abstraction therefore opens up a second doorway to the world of non-figurative art.
Significant influences also result from the modern artists' preoccupation with the ornamentation found in distant cultures, such as Matisse with the Orient and Oceania, Ad Reinhardt with Asian culture, and American painting with pre-Columbian ornament (Josef Albers, Barnett Newman). Referring also to Minimalism, new media, digital technology, the Renaissance and the Rococo, the book celebrates the impact of ornament on abstract art, as well as showcasing a remarkable array of masterpieces.