Collection 1980s–Present


Post-Atomic Abstraction



Wade Guyton. Untitled. 2006. Inkjet on canvas, 7' 1 1/4" × 69" (216.5 × 175.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Fund for the Twenty-First Century. © Wade Guyton
  • MoMA, Floor 2, 203

During the final years of the Cold War and in the decades that followed, artists in Germany and the United States faced a brave—and contradictory—new world. Working in the legacy of World War II, they were simultaneously confronted by scenes of destruction from the past and visions for rebuilding the future, as rapidly advancing technologies transformed almost every aspect of daily life. In both countries, artists responded to this period of transition by synthesizing ideas of new and old, exploring mechanical and computer processes while still incorporating handmade elements into their work.

Novel paths toward abstraction emerged in the push and pull between the prewar and post-atomic worlds. For the artists in this room, a new horizon of technical possibility shaped the materials they used and the ways they produced their work. Some artists created entirely original compositions, while others captured, processed, and manipulated images found in popular culture and on the Internet, asserting their materiality and abstracting them by unraveling the associations they once held.

Organized by Lydia Mullin, Collection Manager, with Abby Hermosilla, Curatorial Assistant, Curatorial Affairs.

8 works online

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