A Trajectory of Non-Objective Art...From the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 
and How it Continues to Resonate
Karole Vail and Andrew Huston Visit SMOA

Karole Vail and Andrew Huston discuss how non-objectivity still pervades artistic practice today. Tracing the arc of non-objective art from its origins at the beginning of the twentieth century in Europe and Russia to the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was known before the Frank Lloyd Wright building was built in 1959, to a variety of artist-run spaces in Europe, the United States and Australia. 

They consider how such radical art, which had been created over one hundred years ago, can still resonate today in a multitude of ways. These core ideas inform their own exhibition space and artist residency program as they pursue their roles as Co-Founders and Directors of Non-Objectif Sud in the South of France.

Realism or representational art is everywhere, in newspapers, magazines, photos, advertising and movies. It is information and is the visual expression we take for granted in our every day lives. It follows the natural human inclination to represent the world we see and all art has its origins in that instinct. 

The imagery of non-objective art is metaphorical, making no reference to the natural world; therefore the viewer must build the transition from representational art to non-objective or abstract art. This drastic change requires a receptive mind. If we want to comprehend and value abstract visual language, we must develop the ability to conceptualize; we must learn to read the art emotionally and intellectually. Non-objective art does not offer obvious, comfortable and familiar clues to help us navigate the reality it is defining.

Often we do not realize or call to mind that all visual artis illusion, a visual arrangement that represents an invented reality. Every image is an expression of aconcept imagined. 

Have you ever asked yourself how the artist constructs the image? Why or how does the artist make the work meaningful or thought provoking? What part does color play or how is color used? Do certain shapes recall memories or suggest obscure ideas? Do some materials encourage subliminal thoughts? Does empty space affect you? Does the art create a familiar or dissonant reality? Is the artist’s process itself an important part of the outcome? 

Our ability to make sense of what we see is based in the inherent mechanics of sight; our innate ability to perceive patterns, shapes and colors makes all modes and styles of art comprehendible. Non-objective work is as much the language of vision, intellect, imagination and emotion as are all other forms of visual art. 

The art of this century has moved well beyond the picture frame and far beyond the bounds of traditional sculpture. It has traveled into other dimensions, both mental and physical, using every imaginable matter and material, objects of every sort, movement, performance, video, light, sound and even sometimes odor. 

Are we capable of being receptive to the radical changes of our time?

Karole Vail has been a Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for the past fourteen years. She is a graduate of Durham University in England and studied at the New Academy for Art Studies in London. Karole is the co-author of many highly respected publications about early twentieth-century art including a biography celebrating her paternal grandmother, Peggy Guggenheim. 

Andrew Huston is a noted contemporary artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally for more than a decade. Recent solo exhibitions include Basel, Sydney, and New York. He was awarded his Bachelor of Visual Arts from Parsons School of Design in Paris and his Masters of Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts in Sydney, Australia. 


Installation View of the 1945 Kandinsky Memorial Exhibit

Museum of Non-Objective Art

Robert Delaunay, Circular Forms, 1930, Oil on Canvas

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection 

Installation in the interior at Non-Objectif Sud

Andrew Huston, Untitled, Glass Enamel and Mirror, 2007

Non-Objectif Sud

Andrew Huston, Untitled, Metal Leaf and Gauze

Hebel 121, Switzerland 2011