Where do we begin to talk about abstract art? This question depends on one’s worldview. From the point of view of the collection included in this book, the arc of abstraction is very broad, sweeping and multivalent. The essays included here take an open view of the story of abstraction, reflecting the variation and diversity of American art included in the holdings of the Newark Museum. The museum gave avant-garde abstraction an early American home, exhibiting the works of painter Max Weber in 1913. Yet abstraction’s American roots extend earlier as seen in indigenous objects as well.
Donald Kuspit discusses America’s earliest abstract painter Arthur Dove and the innovations of Georgia O’Keefe, Joseph Stella, Morgan Russell, and Alexander Calder who all “convey abstraction’s ambivalent consciousness of nature and its unconscious attempt to recover the self.”