On Abstraction, Ed Moses and the Need to Explain

November 4, 2014 10:56 PM

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When abstract painting first came into being around a century ago, the traumatic struggle of overcoming 500 years of figuration set the prevailing defensive tone shared by its "inventors." Russian Cubo-Futurist painter Kazimir Malevich felt compelled to assert the superiority of his Suprematism, or "painterly realism," as he called it, over the earlier mimetic variety. Malevich's compatriot, Vasily Kandinsky, championed the artist's "inner need" as the basis for his intuitive improvisations, even going as far as indexing the degree of spirituality accorded to distinct shapes and colors. Dutch neoplasticist painter Piet Mondrian ceaselessly obsessed over the balance of verticals and horizontals in his grids, which were meant to point the way towards universal harmony. All three artists put their theories down in writing on multiple occasions, leaving a provocative legacy of poetic (Malevich), pedantic (Kandinsky) and dense (Mondrian) aesthetic theorizing of abstraction.

Unlike many of his historical predecessors in the field of abstract painting, aside from occasional interviews and very occasional public speaking engagements, Venice based artist Ed Moses (b. 1926), whose prolific and protean output spans over five decades, delegates the exegesis of his abstract pa...

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