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This survey of five decades of late nineteenth and early twentieth century abstract art chronicles the evolution of a movement that the book argues was the inevitable precursor to Modernism. Filled with full page reproductions as well as details of some of the most influential abstract paintings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this volume follows the broad and diverse ways that painters such as Whistler, Monet, Cézanne, Denis, Vuillard, Matisse, Derain, Picasso, and Braque learned from each other as they embarked on an entirely new kind of expression. Informative essays explore questions such as how these artists arrived at such a convergence; why abstract art took root so quickly; and why has it never been singled out by critics or historians as an independent art movement. This produced volume illustrates how abstraction arose directly from a tradition of speculation about the nature of art and aesthetic experience.