I now want to look at some work from the nineteenth century which I think illustrates the dissatisfaction with illusionistic painting that eventually resulted in the emergence of abstract art. Beginning with three drawings by Van Gogh:

'A starry night', done in 1888, two years before Van Gogh's death. The image remains static but that very stasis only emphasises the intensity of the experience he wants to share. 

In the following year, 1889, the drawing is infused with a sense of rhythmic mobility, the awareness that all things are in constant movement and the longing to find a means of presenting this in his drawing.

And here, also in 1889, the year before his death, returning to the theme of the starry night, the sense of rhythmic movement has taken over completely:

In an essay on Van Gogh the painter and poet Walter Firpo had this to say about Van Gogh's discovery of the rhythmic mobility of the world:

'Certainly it is not just the painters who mistook the real meaning of the powerful and deeply touching message Van Gogh conveys. Psychiatrists too have drawn conclusions just as radically in error, letting themselves be influenced by the appearance, which they see as chaotic and convulsive, of his painting, above all that of his last period, called the period of Saint Rémy. The fact that the whole of the canvas was subjected to a gravitational pull structured in cadence (gravitation cadencée) in which the objects submitting to it tended to lose their own individual life taking on the collective life of the rhythm (which links everything together and refuses to take into consideration anything that is outside that link) seemed to them to be the clear sign of an unbalanced state of mind. They forgot that the clear sign of madness is precisely the lack of connection between things that appears in the thought of the person who is ill. In reality, in the Saint-Rémy period that we should call 'rhythmic', what Vincent did was, quite simply, to recover the classical, traditional and religious order, that of the surface brought into a single rhythm (unanimement rhythmée) that we find in the Celtic and Christian ages. That is his surest title to glory; that is how he anticipates the development of non-figurative art. This false interpretation of the purest act any painter could do is typical of the lack of understanding of Vincent's true nature, which is all tenderness - the works he showed bear witness to it a thousand times. But it's clear that the most dangerous of illusions consists in considering Vincent as an instinctive painter without culture.'

To illustrate what Firpo means when he talks about the 'Celtic and Christian ages' here is an example of a mobile rhythmic art, taken from the 'Harley Gospels":

and to show what he means by saying that Van Gogh anticipates non-figurative art, here is an example from the master of rhythmic non-figurative art, Albert Gleizes:

A painting in which we can see the mobile, spiralling, rhythmic principles breaking free (as in the example of Celtic Christian art) from its figurative encumbrance.