The Development of Abstract Art

Alfred Barr's diagram of the development of Modern Art.

Alfred Barr’s diagram of the development of Modern Art.

Edward Tufte has discussed it in his book Beautiful Evidence. Tufte draws attention to the arrows and the naivety of their unidirectional presentation of causality.

I’m probably guilty of the same kind of thing in my own History of Reggae diagram.

I think Barr’s diagram may include a rough geographical axis as well as a temporal axis. It roughly maps West European art on the left and East European art on the right of the page. The red boxes are ahistorical general cultural influences. Had the diagram stretched beyond 1935, it might have opened a space even further to the left to show the movement of abstract art across the Atlantic.

Daniel Feral’s Graffitti and Street Art diagram doesn’t involve this geographical dimension – because pretty much all the developments he traces occurred in New York. Which surely seems *a little bit* one sided.

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MOMA

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