Wassily Kandinsky. 'Delicate Tension', 1923. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Reproduced under Creative Commons-Zero CCO

study days

Thinking about abstractism

  • Monday 21 October 2019
  • Brockway Room, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
  • Lecturer: Linda Bolton

Road to Abstraction
Kandinsky, the great Russian artist and theorist, believed that painting should aspire to the condition of music. His work moved from Russian folkloric style to complete abstraction within fifteen years, and his publications and position as a teacher at the seminal Bauhaus School meant that his influence was immense. His journey from the figurative to the abstract will be our starting point in this session.

Mondrian and de Stijl
Looking to establish harmony after the horrors of WWI, Mondrian sought a spiritual dimension in his art where a balance of opposites could be distilled into a zen-like state to create utopian designs, projects and painting for a Brave New World.

Abstract Expressionism 
In the mid-twentieth century American artists embraced the abstract, both with colour field painting and abstract expressionism. Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings trace the process of his work while Mark Rothko’s provide a large meditative space. He described the subject of his work as tragedy, ecstasy and doom. Here we think further about the impact of colour, form and gestural painting.



Linda Bolton is one of Art History UK’s leading exhibition guides and is a highly experienced and senior art historian and a curator at Tate Britain. Linda has published a dozen books on nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists and art movements, and is currently writing a graphic novel on the French artist Elizabeth Vigée le Brun.

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