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Ornament und Abstraktion: die »Arabeske als Triebfeder der Moderne«?

Regine Prange

Online veröffentlicht:

01 Sep 2017



Contrary to the current discourse on world art, which revives the notion of the ornament as a global artistic phenomenon that transgresses cultures and connects tradition and modernity, this article will elaborate how this concept actually follows a modernist ideology, which evades the crisis of a specifically Western art term in order to reconcile abstraction and representation. The recourse to artisanal procedures of jewelry making motivated an aesthetics of process, within which social practice and its depiction seemed to be unified. Semper’s consequential idea of the ornament as a symbol of art entered exemplary artist theories of the twentieth century. This mythology of the ornament is, however, to be differentiated from the ornament-critical materiality of the paintings of Mondrian, Pollock, and Warhol, which simultaneously nourish a radically iconoclastic impulse, questioning the claim of totality of the classic panel painting by negating the identity of line and surface, figure, and ground.

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