Abstract art was advertised since the beginning of the century, but it was not until the 1920s that it became one of the most important phenomena in the history of art. It was a new way of approaching creation independently of all visual reality, preferring analysis and intuition to imitation. On the other hand, I inaugurate new formal ways that for many would be fundamental when relaunching the problem of the spirituality of art.
Abstract art was born in the second decade of the 20th century, its origin is due to the reaction against impressionism.
Two great masters of French painting Cézanne and Seurat gave it a foundation, advocating harmony as the objective and essence of painting. They opposed this harmony (spiritual fact based on the creative power of man) to that faculty of perception and the registration of visual phenomena that impressionism had brought to its apogee. Cézanne and Seurat demanded from the artist a creative act that surpasses the skill of the eye and the senses, an essential source of the splendid art of the Impressionists. But even before this time of Impressionism it was when Gustave Flaubert who prophetically foresaw that there would be an art different from that of his time (realism). It says thus: "Beauty will perhaps become a useless feeling for humanity and art will be something that will be located halfway between algebra and music." Flaubert had foreseen an artistic future beyond visual perception. This is how Cézanne and Seurat, later, began to carry out this prophecy: Ceazasnne based his art on the strict and clear laws of geometry: "Treating nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere, the cone, all of which are perspective so that each side of an object on a plane is directed towards a central point. Parallel lines provide extinction on the horizon, that is, a section of nature or, if you prefer, the spectacle that the Pater omnipotens aeterne Deus shows before our eyes. The lines perpendicular to this horizon give it depth ".
Seurat, for his part, finds harmony in an almost musical conception of reality: "Art is harmony, harmony is the analogy of opposites, the analogy of similarities, of tone, of color, of line, considered through the dominant and under the influence of lighting in happy, serene or sad combinations ".
The earliest works of abstract art derive from Seurat, although it is very difficult to establish when the first work of abstract art was born.
This art could be defined as "an attempt to make the world speak instead of making it speak through the reflection that our soul gives to it", all this according to Frank Marc.
Two observations are necessary when dealing with abstract art. The first concerns the very term abstract, which was widely discussed, since to abstract "is to draw from", and that was not what was intended, since every work of art, even figurative, always participates in an abstraction for its elaboration. Years after its appearance, like Hans Arp, they tried to specify the limits of both of creation using the word "concrete". The second observation aims to oppose two cultures of history and abstract art. Until recently, the American modernist vision prevailed. According to this, abstract art started from Cézanne's inquiries that led to Cubism and, from there, to the various geometries of Malevitch, Mondrian and other constructivists of the 1920s.
From the end of 1911 to the beginning of 1912, abstract works are already much closer to geometric language, with the use of colors that are often dramatically degraded.
Robert de la unay makes color acquire a predominant role in the work of this pioneer of geometric abstract art that came out of the Seccion d'Or. Another important work of this painter was "The endless rhythms" that he painted towards the end of his life that clearly reveals the musical inspiration of his creation: based on the same plastic elements of his independent works of the perception of reality - segments of circles and rings - ended an abstract work, or - according to his own words - non-objective that sings a new joy, a comforting optimism and a magnificent confidence in the human spirit.
The other great pioneering realization of abstract art took place in the Netherlands during the First World War in which the Netherlands remained neutral. Its authors were Mondrian, Van Doesburg, Van der Leck and Huszar, and their collective efforts focused on the magazine D Stijl. In the art of the Stijl, two principles dominate the artistic creation: Complete abstraction, that is, the exclusion of any reference to no matter what phenomenon of perseptible reality, and the limitation of vocabulary to the straight line of the right angle (to the horizontal and to the vertical) and to the three primary colors blue, yellow and red with the three non-primary colors, white, gray and black.
In 1927 the pioneer Kandinski built his paintings based on almost exclusively geometric elements: circles, rectangles, segments of circles, triangles, squares, etc. Kandinski published his results in his book From Point to Line and to Plane.
Abstract art is therefore not characterized by the exclusive use of geometric forms nor by its total rejection of any reference to the perseptible reality, but by its way of considering, ordering and understanding the universe. which gives it its innovative impulse if not mathematical thinking, as formulated by Max Bill in a 1949 text: mathematical thinking and the art of our time. It is a need for objectivity and transmission capacity, which, freeing us from the arbitrariness of the appearances of nature and the subjectivity of our individual temperament, has allowed us to dominate the world. It is an art that makes the laws of this universe visible, the music of the spheres, thus coinciding with Faubert's prophecy. It is an art that pretends to be a beacon, which is why Mondrian has always spoken of this art as a "true vision of reality."