Ask anyone about abstract painting and chances are he or she will start talking about the late work of Mondrian, the Colorfields of Rothko, Pollocks Drip Paintings, the hard-edge work of Barnett Newman, or about that great De Kooning in the permanent collection of the Stedelijk Museum. All of them Americans or Europeans working in New York.
Post-war American Abstract Expressionism is, however, by no means the only abstract art movement. Think of the pan-European Cobra movement, which emerged in the 1950’s, or of the monochromes of Robert Ryman or Imi Knoebel. Abstract is mere a umbrella concept for non-figurative work.
Nor was Abstract Expressionism the first abstract movement to emerge. During the first decade of the twentieth century a group of painters in Germany around Wasily Kandinsky and Franz Marc formed Der Blaue Reiter. Most of these movements emerge as a reaction to another hitherto fashionable strand of art. While Kandinsky’s abstract response to Fauvism was informed by Schonberg’s atonal compositions, the Zero movement of the 1960s responded to the informal art of the preceding decade with repetitive monochromes that could be produced in series.
There are many artists today who produce abstract art. And like their predecessors, their starting points and the results are just as diverse. Marc Mulders' point of departure is always spiritual, whereas Thomas Raat uses the modernist lexicon to criticize postmodernism.