“It is well to remember that a picture, before being a battle horse, a nude woman or some anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order.” —Maurice Denis
While abstraction is evident around the world in art and functional objects, its art-historical significance is as a category for 20th-century Western art that moved away from the faithful representation of nature. The origins of abstraction are commonly located in the works of J.M.W. Turner, Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, the Impressionists, as well as in the early 1900s, when Paul Cézanne's stylized, flattened forms influenced what would eventually be called the Cubism of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Arguably the first abstract art movement, Cubism would prove foundational to countless branches of abstract art, including Futurism in Italy, the non-objective abstraction of Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich, and Piet Mondrian, and the Purism of Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant. Though the intervening decades have seen returns to representation in different movements, virtually all of the dominant art forms of the latter half of the 20th century—including Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, Pop Art, Minimalism, and Conceptual Art—have embraced the power and aesthetic of formal abstraction in lieu of literal representation.