Abstract art is now about seventy years old. It is one of the developments in art that will always be seen as a creation of the twentieth ccdntury. In the past, various writers in tracing the historical origins of the abstract movement, have described the works of the principal artists in terms of 'influence' and 'style' without considering the single important fact that abstraction is not a 'style' but what Delaunay called a 'change of understanding'. No stylistic definition, however broad, can encompass the work of painters as diverse as Kandinsky and Malevich. Mondrian and Kupka, Wyndham Lewis and Itten. How abstract art developed in its first crucial years c. 1910-20 is the theme of this book and the exhibition for which it has been published. The necessity for a new approach to the subject has encouraged an examination of the process by which artists gradually evolved a vocabulary of abstract form, not only in their methods of working, but also in their circumstances and theoretical preoccupations.
Th various sections of the book deal with all those countries which produced painters who went on to completely abstract painting - the Netherlands, dominated by Mondrian: Germany and Central Europe dominated by Kandinsky: Rusia dominated by Malevich: Italy, England and the United States. They are centred round the activity in France - the Cubism of Picasso, Braque and Gris, and the 'pure' painters of Paris - Delaunay, Leger and Kupka.
There are over 300 monochrome illustrations and 18 in colour.