Red Yellow Blue Abstract Painting
Red Blue White Abstract Art
Abstract art (sometimes called nonobjective art) is a painting or sculpture that does not depict a person, place, or thing in the natural world. If you put the word 'abstract' into a thesaurus some of the similar words suggested are: theoretical; conceptual; intangible. Among its many antonyms (or words with opposite meanings) is ‘simple’. The word abstract suggests something vague, difficult, not easily grasped. But abstract art doesn't have to be any of those things. On the contrary, an artist working in an abstract way might want to make something striking and beautiful, whisking us away from the humdrum realities of the everyday. In other words, they might be interested in art for art’s sake, pure and simple. With abstract art, the subject of the work is what you see: color, shapes, brushstrokes, size, scale, and, in some cases, the process itself, as in action painting. Abstract artists strive to be non-objective and non-representational, allowing the viewer to interpret each artwork's meaning in their own way. Thus, abstract art is not an exaggerated or distorted view of the world such as we see in the Cubist paintings of Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso, for they present a type of conceptual realism. Instead, form and color become the focus and the subject of the piece. While some people may argue that abstract art does not require the technical skills of representational art, others would beg to differ. It has, indeed, become one of the major debates in modern art.
"Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential." –Wassily Kandinsky.
Wassily Kandinsky is often regarded as the pioneer of European abstract art. Kandinsky claimed, wrongly as it turns out, that he produced the first abstract painting in 1911: ‘back then not one single painter was painting in an abstract style’. But we could argue that the roots of this movement are much deeper (and in fact, it seems the Neanderthals were ahead of the game in their cutting of abstract lines into stone). If we look at some of the later works of J.M.W. Turner, for example, some of his landscapes could be seen as abstract. What might be traditionally recognizable forms in the hands of another painter are transformed by sublime elements and overwhelming suggestions of light and scale by Turner.
The Origins of Abstract Art
Originating in Europe in the late 19th century, Abstract artfully emerged in the early 20th century when a decline in the appreciation of Realism became more common among Avant-garde artists of the period. During this time, artists worked to create what they defined as "pure art": creative works that were not grounded in visual perceptions, but in the imagination of the artist. Influential works from this time period include "Picture with a Circle" (1911) by the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky and Francis Picabia's "Caoutchouc" (1909). Likewise, the Abstract art movement which followed called for works which allowed for lucid analysis and meaning via lines, colors, and shapes that had not been previously recognized in the art. Impressionism was, therefore, one of the many other art movements at the genesis of abstraction within art. Like Expressionism, it focused on a few key formal elements to manipulate and distort realistic representation with a clear emphasis on portraying light. Professional abstract art is often about much more than what you see on the surface of the canvas. It may be about the process itself, the artist may be using symbolism, or the artist may have reduced something visible to its abstract essence. Therefore, it helps greatly to be familiar with the whole body of the artist's work — his or her oeuvre. That way you know what paintings have preceded the one you are seeing, which will help greatly in making sense of it.
Abstract art did not flourish between World Wars I and II. Beset by totalitarian politics and by art movements placing renewed emphasis on imagery, such as Surrealism and socially critical Realism, it received little notice. But after World War II an energetic American school of abstract painting called Abstract Expressionism emerged and had wide influence. Since the 1950s abstract art has been an accepted and widely practiced approach within European and American painting and sculpture. Abstract art has puzzled and indeed confused many people, but for those who have accepted its nonreferential language, there is no doubt as to its value and achievements.
Early Influential Abstract Artists
In Chinese painting, abstraction can be traced to the Tang dynasty painter Wang Mo (王墨), who is credited to have invented the splashed-ink painting style. While none of his paintings remain, this style is clearly seen in some Song Dynasty Paintings. The Chan Buddhist painter Liang Kai (梁楷, c. 1140–1210) applied the style to figure painting in his "Immortal in splashed ink" in which accurate representation is sacrificed to enhance spontaneity linked to the non-rational mind of the enlightened. A late Song painter named Yu Jian, adept to Tiantai Buddhism created a series of splashed ink landscapes that eventually inspired many Japanese zen painters. His paintings show heavily misty mountains in which the shapes of the objects are barely visible and extremely simplified. This type of painting was continued by Sesshu Toyo in his later years.
Kandinsky (1866–1944) is often noted as one of the most influential abstract artists. A view of how his style developed over the years is a fascinating look at the movement as he progressed from representational to pure abstract art. He was also adept at explaining how an abstract artist may use color to give a seemingly meaningless work purpose. Kandinsky believed that colors provoke emotions. Red was lively and confident; green was peaceful with inner strength; blue was deep and supernatural; yellow could be warm, exciting, disturbing or totally bonkers; and white seemed silent but full of possibilities. He also assigned instrument tones to go with each color. Red sounded like a trumpet; green sounded like a middle-position violin; light blue sounded like a flute; dark blue sounded like a cello, yellow sounded like a fanfare of trumpets; white sounded like the pause in a harmonious melody.
Reasons To Love Abstract Art
The process of abstraction originally appealed to me as it seemed less restrictive than other styles of painting. However, I found that I needed to apply some of my own rules to make it work for me. One of the rules was to somehow ground the work in the idea of a place but do not have specifics and to let the work represent the world around us, but have no location or place. Achieving a balance between the imagined and the real is one reason why I love abstraction. The second is that I would never like my work to be purely representational. I admire those that work towards representing our world in more literal terms, but for me, it is just an appreciation for talent and the skill in communicating our surroundings. I prefer to let the viewer interpret my paintings in their own way and using abstraction allows this to happen. It is great to hear what people see in it. I think it’s one of the major reasons why I paint the way I do.
I've never been a fan of inspiration and its place in reaching a finished painting. I believe that the finished painting will emerge from the process, rather than sitting around waiting for the lightning bolt to strike. I think Chuck Close sums it up quite well: "The advice I like to give young artists or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that almost never the case". Working in abstraction allows me to create within a process.
Abstract Art Takes Time to Absorb
People often misunderstand abstract art because they are looking for something real and concrete with which they can identify. It is natural to try to name and make sense of what we experience and perceive in the world, so pure abstract art, with its unrecognizable subject matter and unpredictable shapes, colors, and lines can prove challenging. Many people see no difference between the art of a professional abstract painter and the art of a toddler, making it that much harder to find meaning in it. Part of our problem in appreciating abstract art is that we expect to “get it” immediately, and don’t give ourselves time to sit with it and absorb it. It takes the time to absorb the meaning and emotion behind a work of abstract art. The Slow Art movement that is popular worldwide has brought attention to the fact that museum-goers often move through museums very quickly, spending less than twenty seconds on an individual artwork, and thereby missing much of what the artwork has to offer.
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