In Quest of the Absolute

April 6 – June 8, 1996
at Peter Blum SoHo

Peter Blum is pleased to announce an exhibition entitled,"In Quest of the Absolute," which includes highly important paintings by the following 20th century artists:

       KASIMIR MALEVICH       AGNES MARTIN     
       PIET MONDRIAN         ROBERT RYMAN
       BARNETT NEWMAN         BRICE MARDEN    
       MARK ROTHKO             HELMUT FEDERLE    
       AD REINHARDT           JOSEPH MARIONI

"In Quest of the Absolute" presents a uniquely important group of paintings by Modern and Contemporary artists.  Included in the exhibition are works such as Malevich's classic, "Red Square" from 1915. From this time, a major quest involving abstract painting emerged that has demonstrated historical continuity throughout the 20th century. This quest developed into a progressive search for an inextricable link between the philosophical and spiritual dimensions of "actuality" as a limit and conceptual art as an infinitude.

The quest for this new spiritual expression was a dominant preoccupation among artists who in particular, reflect a transition from Western to Eastern philosophy and religion. Malevich's roots in Russia and Mondrian's theosophy underlined their aims for expressing a higher state of consciousness. Rather than paint the Absolute however, these artists sought the "absolute" within painting and hence opened up spiritual paths toward inner experience.

Rothko, Newman, and Reinhardt, in the forties and fifties, would follow along the spiritual path opened by Malevich and Mondrian, to create painting into a vehicle for self-enlightenment. Painting's "ab-straction" from an external world led ultimately to the invention of reductive painting as a contained object of feeling, in which an inner world could be perceived.  

For artists such as Agnes Martin and Brice Marden, the inner spirit is elevated to a level of meditation, to the poetics of Chinese and Zen philosophy. A reflective focus is magnified further as the notion of "objecthood" develops. Spiritual content becomes addressed through a perception of the actual, concrete aspects of painting in the work of Robert Ryman and the monochromes of Joseph Marioni.

Finally, the essence of freeing ourselves by visual means to the experience of Life and Existence occurs in the work of Helmut Federle, whereby a spiritual fusion with the inner logic of formal geometry occurs.

A book with an essay by Yve-Alain Bois will accompany the exhibition.

For further information and photographs, please contact Peter Blum or Betsy Archey. The gallery is located at 99 Wooster Street at Spring Street. Hours are Tuesday - Friday 10-6, Saturday 11-6, and Monday by appointment.