Drawn from El Museo del Barrio’s wide-ranging Permanent Collection, this installation features works that deploy the pared-down building blocks of shape, color, and form. Humans have created visual representations that reduce elements in nature to essential forms, or create abstracted patterns, since our earliest record. Such ways of interpreting the world are widespread in both western and non-western societies to this day. These processes bespeak a desire to create an aesthetic of order, or, to make concrete concepts of cosmological patterns. 

El Museo del Barrio’s collection includes many instances in which abstraction is an important, if not the prevalent, form of language. This includes works created by artists within traditional societies, such as the Taíno, Kuna, and Shibipo, as well as works created by artists trained in industrial centers, that demonstrate the vitality of abstract languages in communicating an urban sensibility. A spectrum of approaches is represented. These include geometric and perceptual explorations of color and shape, process-oriented works, and intensely personal and psychological responses. By the late 1960s, a generation of artists challenged the representational quality of art itself. At the core of their concerns were the very processes of “abstraction” and “representation”. Contemporary conceptual works attest to this important tendency.