I also discovered during this show that abstract art has a formula, an easy one at first sight, but something that might take a while to adapt to in terms of your own preferences. The equation is made of three variables: color, paint application, and form. With my idol Kandinsky, forms obviously derive from a landscape, peaks and voids of mountains and gardens are visible, and a bold pure black line outlines them all. The canvas texture peaks thru as the color is applied in one expressive layer. To him, all the symbolism is in color: "I know what undreamed of possibilities color conceals within itself".
Robert and Sonia Delaunay research the sphere and place opposite colors side by side, shading their tonalities within a sphere.
The futurists are all about hard lines, lots of cones, triangles and sharp edges. There's tremendous play of opposites and shading from light to dark. I especially loved Gino Severini, and the expressive strokes in his drawings.
The Russian suprematists are difficult to grasp as it's just pure geometry and planes of color, but for them the very fine application of paint with tiny brushes across various planes seems key. Liubov Popova was a revisited discovery for me this time around.
Georgia O'Keefe all the way on the other side of the globe is so organic that it feels like she's painting plants or human forms and she's of course been criticized or applauded for that time and again, depending on the era. What she said I found truly powerful: "I found I could say things with color and shape that I couldn't say in any other way, things I had no words for." Her line is very musical, sensual and the palette is soft, pastel-like. A tiny brush and methodical application is, however, her method of paint application.
And then of course, there're the Dutch and the famous Piet Mondrian with his grids of vertical and horizontal lines. Somehow, I didn't realize he was Dutch and that others right beside him were part of the De Stijl movement. Nevertheless, his piece below simply blew me away. Everything is perfectly balanced and your eye moves around to methodically placed limited colors. Unlike Kandinsky, he employs layers upon layers of paint in a soft, calming way, once again - balanced.
It's a grand show, and a must for anyone in love with abstraction. It's also perfectly presented for those simply curious about the development of art in the 20th century and not quite getting what abstract art is all about. All the greats are here, perhaps with the purposeful ommission of the usual suspects like Picasso, Matisse and Cezanne. Kudos to MOMA and to its curatorial staff!