Lars Spuybroek has taken against the "abstract" modern art of the 20th century: He distinguishes a “pure” or “generalized” abstraction - which reduces everything to the naked structure of the sublimated idea and kills the sympathy required for the creation of real beauty – and a “specified” or “temporary” abstraction that he considers an essential condition for the detached form of tenderness that belongs to the holy sympathy. If I explain this correctly, the abstraction of Mondriaan, Rothko, Judd and Lewitt is pure and rejectable, whereas Spuybroek's own abstraction is an indispensable virtue.
I can see and agree with the factual distinction he makes, but I also know the existence of all sorts of nuance between these extremes. And when I stand in front of and look with my own eyes at the unique original of for instance Mondriaan's “Victory Boogiewoogie” in the municipal museum of The Haque, I see a vibrant beauty, with all the features that according to Spuybroek are essential for living art: savageness, changefulness, naturalism, grotesqueness, rigidity and redundancy.
And even if all that were absent, who is Spuybroek to prescribe the recipe for an artist who survived war or torture and needs to show the void or the black hole that comes along with such a destiny? Sometimes art has to be ugly. It's not a hedonistic hobby. That's why I have decided to stop this review and return to my proper work. After all reading "The sympathy of things" is only an academic exercise, appropiate for students, but not of vital importance for the harvest of life.