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'Para III' by Morris Louis

Postwar Abstraction

Abstract art emerged in rebellion against late nineteenth-century moralism, putting forth the idea of creating “art for art’s sake.” By 1950, American artists had embraced abstraction as a means of expressing ideas, emotions, or spirituality through a myriad of innovative approaches. Contemporary abstraction speaks to the ever-shifting currents of artistic practice in which sampling, appropriation, and revival are often employed to invent new visual languages. In Symphony for Felicia (1979), for example, Joan Snyder alludes to the American Synchromists, who believed in the synesthetic power of color and sound, while also evoking Hans Hoffmann’s Color Field theories, to create an emotionally charged composition dedicated to the birth of her daughter.