"What is abstract art good for? What's the use—for us as individuals, or for any society—of pictures of nothing, of paintings and sculptures or prints or drawings that do not seem to show anything except themselves?" In this invigorating account of abstract art since Jackson Pollock, eminent art historian Kirk Varnedoe, the former chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, asks these and other questions as he frankly confronts the uncertainties we may have about the nonrepresentational art produced in the last five decades. Varnedoe conceived of these lectures as a statement of his faith in modern art, and he delivered them, edited and reproduced here with their illustrations, to overflowing crowds at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in the spring of 2003, just months before his death.
With brilliance, passion, and humor, Varnedoe addresses the skeptical attitudes and misunderstandings that we often bring to our experience of abstract art. Resisting grand generalizations, he makes a deliberate and scholarly case for abstraction--showing us that more than just pure looking is necessary to understand the self-made symbolic language of abstract art.
304 pages, 132 color, 129 halftones, 3 b+w | 9 x 9.5 inches