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As the second decade of the twentieth century dawned and with it bought the matchless ravages of the First World War, a radical change was taking place in the realm of painting. The invention of Abstract art would change the face of the contemporary visual arts, yet was a form that emerged not from a Modernist preoccupation with the future, but from progressive art educationalists and from a lengthy gaze back at the past. From the earliest examples of human art non-figurative forms have been used as decorative norms, from the arabesques of Baroque ironwork to the swirling filigree Art Nouveau. To say Abstract Art shook the foundations of early-twentieth century society would be an understatement. In museums today, visitors still regard the works of Wassily Kandinsky , Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian with a disapproving frown. But for centuries a painting was traditionally defined as a replica of reality or of an imagined reality. The fact that Abstract paintings are self-images that refer to nothing else than themselves has often been a hard thing to stomach.
Abstract art reveals the existence of unseen and unknown realities that each artist determines in his or her own way. Abstract art, gestated and born between 1911 and 1917, had a prehistory in spiritual or esoteric practice. Many of the early examples emerged from the ingenuities of modernist music, and were seen as much less imitative of the visual arts. As we look back on the cultural and scientific context of the early twentieth century, Abstract Art seems a logical reaction to distrust what we perceive with our five senses. As technology and science continues to change the conditions of everyday existence, Abstract painting is a reminder of the transformative powers of art, and connects our decorated living spaces to the first caves inhabited by early art-making humans.