““The abstract is our nature, the abstract is the quality of our labour, the abstract is the only community in which we exist.” (Toni Negri)
Abstraction is the ruling principle of a modern society based on a fully mechanised industrialised production. At the same time, it is the dominant theme of art theory and art history across the 20th century. It appears in Modernism as the absorption or consumption of primitive Otherness. As an aesthetic strategy of over-affirmation and “making strange” it is supposed to enable and empower audiences to learn about the realities surrounding them. Later, new modes of abstraction disrupt the homogeneity, universality, and rationality associated with abstraction. In contemporary art and recent art theory abstraction reappears as “abstract machine”, “failure of the abstract”, or withdrawal from the mainstream of cultural production.
The course will offer an introduction to a history of abstraction in art history and art theory. It will combine a close reading of theoretical text with a close viewing of artwork. The goal is to empower the participants to contextualising, critical thinking and linking it to creative practice.
The course is targeting at MFA students (1st and 2nd year), but it is open to all students who are committed to join all sessions.
The course requires presence at all meetings. Participating students are requested to make one presentation in the course of the semester and prepare through readings.
Louis Althusser, “Cremonini, Painter of the Abstract”
Maria Lind (ed.), “Abstraction”
Sven Lütticken, “Inside Abstraction”
Benjamin Noys, “The persistance of the negative”
Antonio Negri, “Art and Multitude”
Alberto Toscano, “Culture of abstraction”
Jan Verwoert, “What Forces Us to Go into Abstraction”
Wilhelm Worringer, “Abstraction and Empathy”