This paper examines modernist theories of abstract painting with the aim of revealing both their explanatory force and their potential limitations and exclusions. Particular emphasis is placed on the relation between the concept of decoration and the concept of depiction and the way in which this relation bears on the possible meanings that can be attributed to the early twentieth-century project of developing a fully abstract visual art.
Jason Gaiger is a Senior Lecturer in Art History at The Open University. His principal area of research is aesthetics and the theory of art from the mid-seventeenth century through to the present day, with a special emphasis on theories of depiction and visual meaning. His books include Aesthetics and Painting (Continuum, 2008), an English edition of Herders Sculpture (University of Chicago Press, 2002) and, as co-editor, Art in Theory: 1648-1815 (Blackwell, 2000) and Art in Theory: 1815-1900 (Blackwell, 1998).