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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Monday, August 27, 2007

Abstract Art

I like abstract art, and in some of my recent websurfing I've stumbled across a lot of haters hatin' on abstract art. I don't get it. The key arguments against abstract art seem to be:

1. It don't look like nuffin.

2. It don't take technical skill like drawing a horsie does.

3. Mean old abstract art fans hate representational art and have overlooked good representational artists.

Taking these objections in reverse order:

3. Sometimes, not always. I like representational art too. Edward Hopper is one of my fave 20th century painters, and my enthusiasm for comics gives the game away.

2. It takes different kinds of skills. Representational art imitates the appearance of God's handiwork; abstract art imitates the logic and processes of God's handiwork. Jackson Pollack's drip canvases look to me like close-ups of tree moss; that's a compliment. He created a new way to represent, not moss, but the processes by which moss (and other growing things) accumulate. Other abstract painters focus on how light hits the eye, and their canvases are like looking through an old windowpane which has been richly textured with time and grime. It takes wise eyes to find these things and bring them to canvas.

As for Objection 1., I just don't get it. If you've ever worn plaid boxers or a striped shirt, you've worn abstract art. If you've ever admired an Oriental Rug, abstract art has touched you life.


Rebecca Crowell said...

Wow, you nailed it--it's really about process and imagination, and also some kind of search for nonverbal Truth, if that isn't too overblown.

I've been an abstract painter for years and have had my share of "huh?" reactions as well as a bit of outright hostility. I take it as part of my job to try and educate and reassure--a lot of people think an abstract painting is like a riddle they have to solve--they are "supposed" to see or deduce something profound. If that happens, great (I like your comment about Pollock) but it's not necessary. It can be experienced in an intuitive, nonverbal way...but a lot of people understandably feel defensive when they can't explain or label what's going on, or they think they somehow don't "get" the painting. The fact that good abstraction defies explanation is part of its appeal in my opinion.

The only thing that really bugs me is when people think what I do is easy.I work really hard and am very self-critical--not at all easy to make Something out of Nothing.

Aaron White said...

Hello Rebecca! I'm glad you liked my post. I've loved abstract art ever sense I was in high school and I stumbled across a book of Paul Klee' prints in the school library. Although he wasn't pure abstraction his work did give me a sense that abstract art had things to teach em about how vision and visual logic work.