I wasn’t sure about this exhibition when I first heard about it at the AGNSW. I don’t know whether it was the recent glut of french masters, whether the endless rooms in New York galleries. I mean a whole exhibition of Klee at the Guggenheim. What was I going to learn that I hadn’t already. And Paths to Abstraction? The title itself made me yawn but any self-confessed abstractionst would not let a chance to see a Kandinsky go past without pilgrimage.
The first room of small Whistler and a minimal moody Picasso gave the indication that this was just the beginning and room after room there was a growing feeling of reverence for those who had gone before us. Picabia, Mondrian, Kandinsky and unknown Russians. I always hated the title Abstractionist. Perhaps it would sit better as Subtractionist, then there would be a logic of some sort that you were looking at the essence of your subject. I think if nothing else this exhibition gave me a re-newed enthusiasm for looking back, to not always struggle and follow the path, to occaisionally return home and be nurtured by our elders.