Abstract art is for many the pre-eminent modern art, and this probably owing to its great influence upon architecture and applied art which has in turn so contributed to what our built world has come to look like. However, abstract art is more than a well from out of which nearly all of today's designers draw inspiration. In the maelstrom of modern art's turbulent history, it stands as the most vital legacy of the avant-garde. The grandiose ambitions of the pioneers - Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondriaan - indeed launched a worldwide movement. In Belgium, too, young artists saw in their own interpretations of this abstract visual language the opportunity to prepare a changing of the guard. After 1945 abstract art would come to find broader public support. Not in terms of the often-hermetic theories which the first generation summoned to add power to their work, but in the works themselves that seemed to have spawned a new classical style, one that was recognizable and linked to the large-scale transformation of the environment. When the second wave began showing a tendency towards academicism, by way of reaction one sought a reversion to the ideals as propounded by the pioneers. Minimalism develops in parallel to the equally 'pure' conceptual art. The abstract movement appears not to have yet encountered its limits. From land art to installations or even performances, it is probably contemporary art's most dominant current.
From Nature to Abstract presents (in three parts) a broad survey of abstract art, in Belgium and internationally. The first part, devoted to the pioneers, is straight away an historical 'scoop' with Développement d'un thème en rouge: Carnaval by Jules Schmalzigaug from 1914. With this recently discovered first abstract painting by a Belgian artist, Schmalzigaug may now truly be counted among the great pioneers. The second part covers the two decades post-1945, when abstract art becomes a broad modern trend. Part three shows the development after 1965, where abstract visual language provides the basis for continual new experiments.