The New Social Environment#205

Abstract Art: A Global History with Pepe Karmel


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Author of “Abstract Art: A Global History” Pepe Karmel will be in conversation with Rail ArtSeen Editor Amanda Gluibizzi and art historian Alexander Nagel. We’ll conclude with a poetry reading from Chia-Lun Chang.

In this talk

In his fresh take on abstract art, noted art historian Pepe Karmel chronicles the movement from a global perspective, while embedding abstraction in a recognizable reality. Moving beyond the canonical terrain of abstract art, the author demonstrates how artists from around the world have used abstract imagery to express social, cultural, and spiritual experience.

Karmel builds this fresh approach to abstract art around five inclusive themes: body, landscape, cosmology, architecture, and man-made signs and patterns. In the process, this history develops a series of narratives that go far beyond the established figures and movements traditionally associated with abstract art. Each narrative is complemented by a number of featured abstract works, arranged in thought-provoking pairings with accompanying extended captions that provide an in-depth analysis. This wide-ranging examination incorporates work from Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America, as well as Europe and North America, through artists ranging from Wu Guanzhong, Joan Miró, Jackson Pollock, to Hilma af Klint, and Odili Donald Odita. Breaking new ground, Karmel has forged a new history of this key art movement.

Find out more or get a copy »

Pepe Karmel

Pepe Karmel
Pepe Karmel teaches in the Department of Art History, New York University. His book Picasso and the Invention of Cubism was published by Yale University Press in 2003. He has curated or cocurated many exhibitions and has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues, as well as to publications including Art in America and the New York Times. His new book Abstract Art: A Global History was published by Thames & Hudson in 2020.

Alexander Nagel

Alexander Nagel
Portrait by Phong H. Bui
Alexander Nagel is Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. His interest in art and religious reform produced Michelangelo and the Reform of Art (2000, winner of the Renaissance Society of America’s Gordan book prize), and The Controversy of Renaissance Art (2011, winner of the College Art Association’s Morey book prize). His interest in the multiple temporalities of art led to the publication of Anachronic Renaissance (co-authored with Christopher Wood, 2010) and Medieval Modern: Art out of Time (2012). His current work addresses questions of orientation and configurations of place in Renaissance art and culture. In 2016, he received an NEH Fellowship for a collaborative project (with Elizabeth Horodowich, NMSU) entitled Amerasia: A Renaissance Discovery.

Amanda Gluibizzi

This is a sunny portrait of the Rail's Art Editor, Amanda Gluibizzi with houses in the background and a blue sky. Gluibizzi is wearing a yellow shirt and sunglasses.
Amanda Gluibizzi is an ArtSeen editor at The Brooklyn Rail. An art historian, she is the co-director of The New Foundation for Art History and the author of Art and Design in 1960s New York (forthcoming).

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Chia-Lun Chang reading.

Chia-Lun Chang

A photo of Chia-Lun Chang
Chia-Lun Chang is author of One Day We Become Whites. Recent work appears in Poetry Society of America, Pinwheel, Apogee, and many others. She teaches contemporary Taiwanese poetry at the Brooklyn Public Library and writes for chatbots. Born and raised in New Taipei City, Taiwan, she lives in NYC.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.