I found this in a local second-hand book shop whilst having a rummage and it's really good. Originally published in 1980 by Tate Gallery Publications, a long time ago now I know, but the subject (the background to abstract art) feels fresh to read. I was drawn to the book by the cover, which I absolutely love. It's a reproduction of an oil painting by Frantisek Kupka called Amorpha Fugue in Two Colours painted in 1912.
The book contains about ten essays, three in particular I will mention here. Music and Abstract Painting: Kandinsky, Goethe and Schoenberg by Peter Vergo, Mathematics In Early Abstract Art by Lucy Adelman and Michael Compton and The Psychological Background To Early Modern Colour: Kandinsky, Delaunay and Mondrian by John Gage. These essays point to the ideas that were drawn from other arts and disciplines at the beginning of the new century and the radical changes that were taking place at that time regarding the changes from representational to a more abstract art.
Other essays cover abstract art in relation to interior decoration. One piece discusses why so many Parisian artists went to the brink of abstraction only to revert to figurative modes, another describes the circulation of ideas and images breaking through in Paris and then spreading throughout the Western world.
As I say, it's a really good read but there's more to get through, so I'd better get on with it so I can start a new book my partner (Robin) bought for me this week titled Dada's Women by Ruth Hemus, which I may talk about in my books section at a later date.
Below is an example of atonal music from Schoenberg's early masterpiece Pierrot Lunaire, which influenced Kandinsky. In this piece there are many unresolved dissonances.
Here's the bookshop in Harmood Street near Chalk Farm Road in Camden. There aren't many left these days in London and we'll miss them when they're gone so go and check out your local second-hand bookshop, if you have one, you never know what treasures you might find.