JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post [Part of the History of the Future series.]
I've written on this blog on a number of occasions about the coming of The Modern, about the coming of many modernisms that came to life in the extraordinary period of 1885-1925 (which could even be shaved perhaps to 1895-1920 and further if you're a stickler), when nearly all things "modern" in nearly all fields came to be. Sometimes though one can see a hint of the future, even though it might not necessarily be recognized at the time.
Such is the whisper of the future in this humorous, somewhat mocking piece on art in the 13 June 1863 issue of Punch, or the London Charivari. Overall its pretty funny in a 19th century fashion, but what I am taken with most of course is the first piece, the framed non-representational artwork, a taste of the future that wouldn't arrive for another 50 years with Wassily Kandinsky. But here it is, or here is something, presented as art, in 1863, and with no discernible, naturalistic subject matter.
Even in satire, seeing such a picture give some pause--if for no other reason, that even here in the early stretch of Abstract Expressionism, that such an image would appear in a very popular journal and have (a) no impact and (b) not an ounce of staying power.