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The Rhetoric of Purity : Essentialist Theory and the Advent of Abstract Painting - Mark A. Cheetham

The Rhetoric of Purity

Essentialist Theory and the Advent of Abstract Painting

Paperback Published: 9th January 1995
ISBN: 9780521477598
Number Of Pages: 220

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In The Rhetoric of Purity, Mark Cheetham explores the historical and theoretical relations between early abstract painting in Europe and the notion of purity. For Gauguin, Serusier, Mondrian and Kandinsky - the pioneering abstractionists whose written and visual works Cheetham discusses in detail - purity is the crucial quality that painting must possess. Purity, however, was itself only a password for what Cheetham defines as an 'essentialist' philosophy inaugurated by Plato's vision of a perfect, non-mimetic art form and practised by the founders of abstraction. The essentialism of late nineteenth-century French discussion of 'abstraction', Cheetham argues, also infects the work of Mondrian and Kandinsky. These visions of abstraction are central to the development of Modernism and are closely tied to the philosophical traditions of Plato, Hegel and Schopenhauer. As a conclusion, Cheetham provides a postmodern reading of Klee's rejection of the rhetoric of purity and claims that Klee's refusal speaks to contemporary concerns in visual theory and culture. By acting as an antidote to the seductive appeal of purity in art and society, Cheetham's final critique of the trope of purity seeks to preserve the possibility of visual discourse itself.

"Excellent....Cheetham's study clarifies many of the contradictory aspects of early abstract theory." The Reader's Review

List of illustrations
Out of Plato's cave: 'abstraction' in late nineteenth-century France
Gauguin and the art of pure memory
Serusier and Plato's poison
The Mechanisms of Purity I: Mondrian
The Mechanisms of Purity II: Kandinsky
Purity as Aesthetic Ideology
Absolute autonomy
Universal exclusivity
Authoritarian freedom
Postscript. Klee and the Interrogation of Purity
Selected bibliography
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521477598
ISBN-10: 052147759X
Series: Cambridge Studies in New Art History and Criticism
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 220
Published: 9th January 1995
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 25.12 x 18.97  x 1.22
Weight (kg): 0.42