Editorial Statement of American Abstract Artists (AAA)
The fact of their active existence and production, the American Abstract Artists express the authenticity and autonomy of the modern movement in the United States. The word abstract is incorporated in our title as a provisional gesture, so that we can be identified as a particular group in our effort to clarify Rowing and actively significant concepts of art.
Abstract, like so many other words, is too often used as an idiosyncratic Suggestion, rather than as a concept which defines particular values. To understand Abstract Art is, in reality, no more a problem than understanding any and all art. And this depends upon the ability of the individual to perceive essentials, to perceive that which is called universally significant, and to evaluate the unity and relationship that is contained in any work.
As the first and only comprehensive organization of its type in the United States, we are faced with the familiar problem of a largely unsympathetic and biased criticism, a criticism which merely negates, condemns, or ridicules. There is, however, a more encouraging response to our exhibitions and lectures, a response that could be especially experienced only by the form and action of a representative and authentic organization. Individuals working and studying against the odds of isolation can now be articulate and related to others working in similar directions.
The membership of this group is homogeneous to the extent of its recognition of mutual problems and limitations, and in its willingness to cooperate in the presentation and solution of these problems. We are, as in any group, heterogeneous and diverse in our concepts.
To place artistic, or any cultural effort on the level of a competition is to negate the method and meaning of knowledge. American Abstract Artists dedicates itself to the problems of the artist and the student, presented in the terms of method and activity that define the artist; and limits itself accordingly for the purpose of clarification. As to the question of which aspects of life affect the artist in his effort, this is demonstrated by the character and efficacy of his activity and production; for this we present the individual artist.
No educated intelligence can draw the so-called iine of national culture’ as an ambition and objective, without discerning its ambiguity. Beside being impossible, such a misconception is a negation of the very essence of cultural effort; the general heightening and application of knowledge. To make this negation may be politically expedient but it serves only to preserve and sway ignorance. While knowledge belongs to no nationality, particular nations do exist, and each nation has, and is, a peculiar and limited cultural development.
Considering the tempo of present political history and the importance of the various fields of knowledge in relationship to it, we can do nothing better than emphasize that the contemporary must respect the interpenetration and concatenation of all culture. True culture is recognizable when established from the standpoint of scientific thought and effort. For us it is established through the freedom to develop facilities and to maintain their proportional distribution, as civilized achievements, toward the enlivenment of existence – an unequivocal application toward the physical and psychic benefit of all humanity.