PHO705: Modernism

A re-exploration of the roots of Abstract in Bauhaus, Modernism, Post Modernism and Abstract Expressionism. Here, for now, a start is made.

This blog post serves as a reminder to revisit the developments that led to Abstract Art. This research was started in an earlier module. As there is a link to the chosen abstract genre for the final photo project, there is a reason to extend the reading.

Historic references are recorded here from external to MA studies:

  1. Spotlight on Walter Gropius
  2. The Bauhaus Movement (see timeline at the end of this blog post)
  3. Johannes Itten Biography

Further inquiry begins here with Rothko and Albers.

Mapped History of Abstract Art

(Affron, 2012) Inside front cover

Note: attended Tate Modern Exhibition of Natalia Goncharova during Assessment Period 4.

Marc Rothko

Rothko has had numerous mentions in this blog over the past 18 months:

Josef Albers

Albers work gained mention in an external course on colour but did not gain mention within the scope of this MA blog other than a blog this week PHO705: Artist Jake Wood Evans. To right this here a quotation is taken verbatim from (Affron, 2012) Page 302 as it ties together a number of references:

“Itten’s tenure at the Bauhaus was notoriously marked by the increasing incompatibility between the Expressionist and esoteric impulses of Ittenand his cohort and the functionalist ethos for which the school would become known. That tension is latent in Josef Albers’s Gitterbild (Lattice Picture), also known as Grid Mounted … Working on this piece as a student in the glass workshop of the Bauhaus, Albers cut and arranged squares on manufacturers’ samples of glass within a regular metal lattice. On the one hand, this straightforward grid composition foregrounds the materiality and variety of industrially produced glass, divested of the conventional esoteric connotations of coloured glass panes, for example in church windows. (Albers had created a stained glass window for a church four years earlier, and he would have been thoroughly familiar with the mystical connotations of stained glass). And yet, as light passes through Albers’ grid, Kandinsky’s immaterial fantasy of unbounded colour returns, finding subtle expressions through the chromatic emanation of light.”

(Affron. 2012) Page 302
Gitterbild (Lattice Picture) / Grid Mounted Josef Albers

The above plate is from the book Inventing Abstraction (Affron, 2012)

Alfred Stieglitz

Stieglitz work (Birgus, 2002) Pages 44 and 45 have visual similarities with the earlier portfolio images created for the MA as well as the current crop of images. Interestingly the 4×5 print format is common.

Images – Alfred Stieglitz

Laslo Maholy-Nagy

Having read photographic theory expounded by this writer and artist, and now having viewed a particular image, a chord has been struck. It concerns the appearance of the Christian symbol of the cross as it recurred in earlier work in the build-up to the MA portfolios.

In memory of Sibyl Maholy-Nagy – Laslo Maholy-Nagy

Wassily Kandinsky

Kandinsky is linked in the quotation above and has been previously blogged.

PHO703: Week 1 to 12 Surfaces and Strategies Contextualisation


Affron, M., Bois, Y. and et al (2012) Inventing Abstraction 1910-1925. 3rd 2014. Edited by D. Frankel. New York: Department of Publications Museum of Modern Art. Available at:

Birgus, V. et al. (2002) Die Kunst der Abstrakten Fotografie The Art of Abstract Photography. Edited by Jager Gottfried. Stuttgart, Germany: Arnoldsche Art Publishers.


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