Manfred Müller is showing new work at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery as part of FRAMING ABSTRACTION: MARK, SYMBOL, SIGNIFIER

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Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park

February 27 – April 24, 2011 Opening Reception: Sunday, February 27, 2- 5 pm. Hosted by LAMAGA

ARTISTS: Lita Albuquerque, Jordi Alcaraz, Gary Edward Blum, Hans Burkhardt, Meg Cranston, Claire Cregan, Mark Harrington, James Hayward, Charles Christopher Hill, Kevan Jenson, Naomie Kremer, Manfred Müller

GUEST CURATORS: Marlena Doktorczyk-Donohue and Peter Selz

Abstract form always existed. Prehistoric cave art, ancient art, medieval art and modern art used abstraction right alongside stunning verisimilitude in smart, deliberate ways. Western cultures equated the ability to duplicate the world with the highest standard of art skill, until the camera. Machines that, in a click, captured the real—as well as contacted the artifacts of colonialism—led artists to re-imagine uses and meanings for abstraction: universal communication, theosophy, primal expression, the inner structure of objective reality, and to signify creative ‘free will’ in contrast with lock-step formulas of social realism.  Art history attributes the first abstraction to Kandinsky’s Improvisation of 1911. Oddly enough, non figurative forms in that work repeat similar shapes in the oldest known caves in Marseilles—and these potent  marks sit comfortably beside images of lions so real they rend the heart. It’s fitting that one hundred years later, we reconsider what abstraction means today, its legacy, longevity, and how and why it is used. More fitting still is that we do this through works and words of artists who deploy that language now, each in very different but ever viable ways.

This exhibition, Framing Abstraction, is meant to celebrate the centennial of abstract painting. Abstract art has evolved from its original spiritual and utopian stance in the early 20th century to an art which was seen as radical-avant-garde, and then on to its present vibrant position. Refuting the digital display of the current moment, abstract paintings are simply pictures, brushed by the hand of the artist, in which emotional intuition is framed by the artist’s rational mind into dynamic metaphors.