Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 4 (July-Sept 1983) p. 35.

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geois civilization with a Judaeo Christian heritage now at the stage of monopoly capitalism, these pundits build up a model of the propensities and historical development of human cognition, and they claim for it a universality. This incidentally is the same kind of universality that used to be claimed for the laws of capitalist market economy by neo-classical economists, laws which have had to be discarded even by bourgeois


Gablik is a little more pretentious than her mentors. She takes pur-posively selected samples of western art from different periods, and, to legitimize her universalistic claims, some haphazard examples of late medieval Indian paintings. She then analyses these in their formal makeups only. However, she claims not only universal but historical validity for her purely heuristic model. The model purports to say that the con ceptual mode of representation has by stages replaced the imagist mode of representation in western art. Culminating in a line of development from Cubism through Futurism, and bifurcating into geometrical varieties of abstract art like. Supermatism,0 Neo-Plasticism^Constructivism and Hard-edge painting, it arrives at last at what is called Conceptual art? Since this development of western art follows exactly the supposed line of development of man's cognitive capacity and can be explained in terms of the latter, western art represents the quintessence of art history. It follows that if the arts of other lands have not yet found geometrical-abstract modes, leave alone Conceptual art, it is because the cognitive faculties of these people are still backward. The moral, presumably, is that if the artists of these lands are to prove themselves progressive, they should start contemplating dispassionately, and represent their imaginative thought in an abstract form.

Gablik's thesis is obviously unhistorical. It is necessary, however, to point out that since the turn of the century a destinal universality has been claimed for a variety of geometrical-abstract art, and by persons with better credentials than Gablik: In 1912 by Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger, in their manifesto-like article, Cubism; by Le Corbusier and Amadee Ozenfant in their 1920 article entitled Purism; in 1927 by Kasimir Malevich, writing on Supramatism in The Non-Objective World' and by Naum Gabo in an article entitled The Constructive Idea in Art;

written in 1937. Advanced positions for their respective versions ofab-

a) See illustration 1.

b) See illustration 3. d) See illustrations 6 and 7. c ) See illustration 4. e) See illustrations 8 and 9.

Journal of Arts and Ideas 35


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