Collection 1880s–1940s


Abstraction and Utopia

Fall 2019–Fall 2020


Lyubov Popova. Painterly Architectonic. 1917. Oil on canvas, 31 1/2 × 38 5/8" (80 × 98 cm). Philip Johnson Fund
  • MoMA, Floor 5, 512 The David Geffen Wing

Envision a new artistic language in stride with a changed world: this ambition was shared by many artists across Europe in the early 20th century. In the context of the Russian Revolution of 1917, artists proclaimed that a revolutionary society demanded forms of art liberated from the past. Rejecting traditional painting’s loyalty to recognizable subject matter, they instead promoted nonrepresentational art, exhilarated by its potential to free viewers from the material realm while connecting to radical politics and imagining a more perfect future. In Holland, a group called De Stijl championed abstraction as a model for cultivating the values of universality and connectedness. “If we cannot free ourselves, we can free our vision,” declared the artist Piet Mondrian. “Art must move not only parallel with human progress but must advance ahead of it.”

Organized by Jodi Hauptman, Senior Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, with Jennifer Harris, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

23 works online


Installation images

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].