Ornament = Crime? is the first exhibition through which Bombas Gens Centre d’Art presents a selection of works from the Per Amor a l’Art collection. This exhibition proposes a new outlook on the complex relationship between ornament, art and abstraction. This debate, which traverses the history of art, came to a turning point in 1908, when Adolf Loos stated in his manifesto Ornament und Verbrechen (Ornament and Crime) that the ornament is primitive, feminine and exotic. Modernism and the first writings on abstraction embraced this distinction in an attempt to reaffirm the idea of art’s purity, transcendence and autonomy, while condemning the ornament as superfluous and accessory to the structure and to the essence of the work of art.
Although there was another strand of modernism that rejected these dichotomies and upheld the ornamental as necessary to the art form, disapproval of the decorative prevailed in the mainstream discourse of art history. In contrast with this modern, functionalist and rational notion that disparaged the relationship between ornament and abstraction, postmodernism reclaimed the ornamental, although usually for banal purposes relating to the demand for novelty made by the commodified society of spectacle.
However, the late 20th and the early 21st centuries have opened the way for a positive reassessment of the ornament as an intrinsic value in art, as a formal element for experimentation and dialog between the closed concepts of the abstract and the figurative. Ornament = crime? positions itself within this approach, which is attentive to the dialectic between abstraction and the ornamental as an aesthetics of difference which traverses orders and categories within the arts.