Is Artistic Innovation a Meaningless Periodic Cycle of Fashion?

Yes. When seen from a distance, it is hard to argue otherwise. When a movement manages to generate some “heat”, in the moment, it may seem to be so much more.

Over at ArtNews they published a post called “Can Abstract Art Still Be Radical?” The item is a review of a history show on geometric abstract art put on by the Whitechapel Gallery. It sounds like the show does a good job of highlighting when the movement was so inspirational to artists. It also covers how, given the passage of time, the movement evolves into clichéd material to be quoted by more “modern” artists.

What the show then deftly gets you to consider is how the geometric form turns from a sort of window onto the future, into an oppressive, opaque blank wall, an advert for going nowhere, with no way out. That’s perhaps why much of the latter works in this chronological show betray a sense of inertia, like Peter Halley’s airless abstract canvas Auto Zone (1985), which hints more at the claustrophobic world of office blocks and daily commutes than it points to an exciting, unknown tomorrow. But then, geometric blank form, you start to feel, end up meaning what you want it to mean─it is its sheer emptiness that allows artists to project their desires and frustrations onto it. Meanwhile, since minimal geometric design has been co-opted by everyday commercial culture─thank you IKEA─it’s easy to condemn it as the slave of corporations, as in Gunilla Klingberg’s sardonic video animation that turn supermarket logos into a rotating kaleidoscope of almost-abstract patterns (Spar Loop, 2000).

A couple of random examples of geometric abstract sculpture:

Fabrizio Pedrali

Richard Walker