In the first decades of the 20th century, abstraction revolutionized the arts in Europe. Albert Einstein’s theories on space and time and the discovery of X-rays played a part, suggesting worlds beyond human perception. Studies of light and prismatic effects, atonal music, and, for some, a search to express spiritual values also contributed to its embrace.
Paris was a hotbed of artistic innovation, and between 1908 and 1912, Cubist painters fragmented the traditional image and collapsed perspectival space. Their radical visions, along with the soft biomorphic forms created by the Surrealists, echo in the works in this gallery. Like many other artists in Europe before and during World War II, Roberto Matta came to New York. Becoming friends with William Baziotes, he introduced him to Surrealist ideas.
In the 1920s, the German art school known as the Bauhaus fostered a multidisciplinary approach to teaching, combining architecture, painting, printmaking, theater, design, and textile arts. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers taught there, and Annie Albers was a leading member of the textile arts program, eventually expanding her practice to printmaking. Like other artists sheltering from the war, the Albers couple and Moholy-Nagy started new lives in the United States. Later, they became influential teachers at leading schools.