These pioneers, including Vasily Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Frantisek Kupka and Francis Picabia, whether by accident or design, succeeded in totally up-ending all preconceived notions of what constituted art. And it stuck. Art was no longer the representation of a person or an object or a landscape, it became the interpretation of ideas - a radical perspective that became the dominant theme of the 20th century. No longer limited to the fine arts of painting, sculpture and drawing - this new approach involved unprecedented collaborations producing atonal music (think Schoenberg), sound poetry (think "Ursonata") and non-narrative dance (think Mary Wigman).
This winter season, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, under the curatorship of Leah Dickerman, is paying homage to this watershed period in art history with the special exhibition "Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925". Ms. Dickerman has assembled a stellar group of works representing the period's most influential "isms" - Cubism, Synchromism, Orphism, Futurism, Suprematism, Constructivism and Dadaism that combined, make up the salad that is Abstraction.
Frantisek Kupka "Localization of Graphic Motifs II", 1912-13
I came away with a wonderment at how much radical change occurred in a mere decade and a half. Despite, or maybe because of, the massive upheaval and destruction of World War I, art continued to be created but with a whole new attitude. By 1925 the metamorphosis was entrenched and Abstraction remains a guiding factor in many art movements to this day. "Inventing Abstraction" is on view until April 15, 2013.