It is hard to tell if abstract painting actually got worse [after the 1960s], if it merely stagnated, or if it simply looked bad in comparison to the hopes its own accomplishments had raised.
—Frank Stella, Working Space, 1986

It must be acknowledged at the outset of these observations that the question of whether abstract art has a future is anything but new. The question of abstraction’s future has been raised many times in the past. Historically, the question of abstraction’s future is as old as abstraction itself, for the birth of abstract art some ninety years or so ago immediately prompted many doubts about its artistic viability. No sooner did abstract art—particularly abstract painting—make its initial appearance on the international art scene in the second decade of the twentieth century than the doubts about its future course began to be heard.


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