Art, abstract

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-M001-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2011
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

References and further reading

Readers of this article have at their fingertips a rich fund of helpful sources. Information and images regarding all the artists and works mentioned can easily be located by use of common search engines. Taking advantage of this treasure trove is highly recommended (without any implication whatever that studying reproductions is an entirely adequate substitute for face-to-face encounters with the works themselves).

  • Barr, A. H., Jr (1936) Cubism and Abstract Art, New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966.

    (A classic account of varieties of cubism.)

  • Cheetham, M. (1991) The Rhetoric of Purity: Essentialist Theory and the Advent of Abstract Painting, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press..

    (Detailed analysis of the ‘essentialist’ philosophical theories influencing Gauguin, Kandinsky and Mondrian.)

  • Clark, T. J. (1999) Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press..

    (Chapter 4 arguably offers the most insightful and admirably detailed treatment of Picasso’s analytic cubism so far produced. Chapter 6 does a comparable job on Pollock, deploying social theory and Hegelian ideas as well as close observation of the works. Relates interestingly to the views on Pollock in Fer 1997.)

  • Courbet, G. (1861) ‘Letter in the Courrier du dimanche, December 25, 1861’, in L. Nochlin (ed.) Realism and Tradition in Art, 1848–1900: Sources and Documents, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1966, 34–36.

    (Gives Courbet’s criticism of abstraction in visual art referred to in §1.)

  • Danto, A. C. (1981) The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    (Contains ambitious interpretations of works by abstraction expressionists and their successors, among others; relevant to §5.)

  • Fer, B. (1997) On Abstract Art, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    (A partly deconstructionist analysis of Malevich, Mondrian, Kandinsky and others. Her interpretation of Pollock in ch. 5 contrasts with that given by 1990 cited above.)

  • Fer, B. (2004) The Infinite Line: Remaking Art After Modernism, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    (A serious and detailed but often baffling effort at explaining types of serial and installation art that aims not at aesthetic coherence but at ‘fragmentation’.)

  • Fried, M. (1965) Three American Painters, Boston: Garland.

    (Elaborate formalist analysis of spatial effects in nonfigurative abstraction; relevant to §4.)

  • Golding, J. (1985) Boccioni: Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, London: Tate Gallery.

    (Exemplary study of the first world masterpiece of futurist sculpture.)

  • Golding, J. (2000) Paths to the Absolute: Mondrian, Malevich, Kandinsky, Pollock, Newman, and Still (A. S. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, 1997), Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    (Generally excellent discussions of artists and works.)

  • Greenberg, C. (1973) Art and Culture, London: Thames & Hudson.

    (‘Collage’ and ‘Abstract, Representational, and so forth’ deal with the relation of image to surface discussed in §4.)

  • Kandinsky, W. (1912) Über das Geistige in der Kunst, insbesondere in der Malerei, mit acht Tafeln und zehn Originalholzschnitten, Munich: R. Piper; trans. and with intro. by M. T. H. SadlerasConcerning the Spiritual in Art, New York: Dover, 1977.

    (An early, highly speculative attempt to provide a theoretical basis for abstraction by one of its principal creators. Analytic philosophers will find it exasperating.)

  • Museum of Modern Art (1984) The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The History and the Collection, New York: Harry N. Abrams and Museum of Modern Art.

    (Especially useful compendium of illustrations of cited works.)

  • Osborne, H. (1979) Abstraction and Artifice in Twentieth-Century Art, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    (The only comprehensive treatment of the subject by a philosopher available in English. Generally sound, provided that one abstracts from the information-theoretic concepts by substituting ‘schematic’ for ‘semantic’ and ‘nonfigurative’ for ‘syntactic’ (abstraction).)

  • Pohribny, A. (1979) Abstract Art, Oxford: Phaidon.

    (Rich in illustrations of cited works; also contains a useful historical summary of modes of non-figurative abstraction through the mid-1970s.)

  • Rosenberg, C. M. (1971) ‘Cubist Object Treatment: a Perceptual Analysis’, Artforum 9 (8): 30–36.

    (An insightful, though somewhat technical analysis of cubist pictorial devices.)

  • Schapiro, M. (1978) Modern Art: 19th and 20th Centuries, Selected Essays, New York: George Braziller.

    (‘Abstract Art’ and ‘Mondrian’ give probing analyses of the relation of abstract art to its antecedents and social context.)

  • Tomkins, C. (1968) The Bride and the Bachelors: Five Masters of the Avant Garde, New York: Viking Press.

    (A classic study of formative figures of the irreverent wing of the avant-garde: Duchamp, Cage, Tinguely, Rauschenberg and Cunningham; relevant to §6.)

  • Varnedoe, K. (2006) Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock (A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, 2003), Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    (Sensitive and illuminating commentary on modes of abstraction during the second half of the twentieth century.)

  • Walton, K. (1990) Mimesis as Make-believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

    (A comprehensive theory covering both figurative and nonfigurative modes of visual representation and the relations between them and verbal and musical forms of representation.)

  • Walton, K. (2008) ‘Style and the Products and Processes of Art’, inMarvelous Images: On Values and the Arts, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    (Insightful proposals regarding works that defy the usual modes of appreciation, including Duchamp’s found objects and conceptual art in general.)

  • Whitford, F. (1984) Understanding Abstract Art, New York: E. P. Dutton.

    (A wide-ranging introduction to abstract painting.)

  • Worringer, W. (1908) Abstraktion und Einfühlung: Ein Beitrag zur Stilpsychologie, Munich: R. Piper; repr.1959, trans. Michael BullockasAbstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style, Cleveland, OH: World Publishing Company, 1967.

    (A seminal study of abstraction in traditional art, both fine and decorative.)

Citing this article:
Brown, John H.. Bibliography. Art, abstract, 2011, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-M001-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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