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davefriend
04-10-2014, 11:16 AM
I am starting a new thread based on a suggestion from saje and salting it with a few comments from the thread DMSS started titled "Baseball & Dumbbells - x-posted in Acrylics (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1347978)" ...I suggest this become a independent thread here. Does a pure abstraction become an identity or is it a non-attached beginning and end? Does one identifiable object within an abstraction distort the recognized object? Does the single identifiable object expand into something new with its surrounding abstraction?
...If a piece is highly representational, the viewer becomes aware, be it consciously or subconsciously, of its real life proportions, perspective and lighting. If you intentionally distort reality only slightly the image will simply appear off. If you exaggerate the incongruous elements while maintaining the other parts as representational you might be able to create a visual and quirky tension in the artwork...
I agree in that, when objects are identifiable, the left side of your brain will try to categorize them by comparing them to other similar objects on file there. The viewers brain is measuring your presentation against the others and if reality of an object is perceived the brain will either supply and correct any small irregularities and appreciate it or finding oddities (as compared with what the brain thinks that object SHOULD look like) pick apart those and reject the work.

When on the other hand you create a NEW object, such as through exaggeration or abstraction, one that is unlike other objects in the brains filing system you may be able to create a new file in the viewers brain because the new object needs to be investigated and cataloged - so the brain becomes engaged through its curiosity and switches from reliance on the the left brain's reality mode to the right brain imagination mode and that is where the fun begins for the abstract viewer.

Don't know if any of this is true but it is generally how I am understanding the process.

saje
04-10-2014, 08:09 PM
thanks Dave, hopefully there is some interest here.

"When on the other hand you create a NEW object, such as through exaggeration or abstraction, one that is unlike other objects in the brains filing system you may be able to create a new file in the viewers brain because the new object needs to be investigated and cataloged - so the brain becomes engaged through its curiosity and switches from reliance on the left brain's reality mode to the right brain imagination mode and that is where the fun begins for the abstract viewer."

this statement by you goes to the core of the influence upon the viewer. we are the viewer also but do we really create a new catalog with each abstract perception. Joking, but could we so deeply be influenced that we, ourselves become an abstraction? I often wonder what influence our artwork has upon people in the living theatre. when there is "realism" subtly suggested within a piece of art and it has not been realized by another does this open the window to broaden a potential for reality?

In my sculptures, proven not, I feel the need to often have an associative tidbit of realism to begin the viewer's relation to the piece. Within this recognition then a viewer can 'relate' to some beginning point where then a distancing/conflict/non-existence begins if there is to much abstraction. To me, when I do a pure abstraction that does not have a realism associative form, the meaning remains so vague that there is no dwelling upon the piece. Pure abstraction does have subliminal relativity but this also can become a generic uncategorized file within the viewer that is just a safe place.

if a piece touches you in a abstract way, then what has been touched?

it'sALLart
04-10-2014, 10:18 PM
Even with amorphous shapes, the human brain tries to correlate what it sees to something it already knows. Can't be helped. That's why you see so many people looking at abstract and saying "Oh, it looks like ______ (fill in the blank).

There is also something to be said of the Dada-ist method, throwing unrelated objects together or putting them in completely obtuse surroundings to make a wholly new abstraction or message. But it's all about the messages' meaning and therein the problem lies. You may be saying one thing, we may be hearing another. But that's the fun part, if you ask me.

davefriend
04-11-2014, 12:03 AM
Depending on the levels of abstraction and its reference to something in the real world, you may be able to distort reality for the viewer and pull them in. For many, it would be a point of reference that they could connect to in their existing reality making it easier to relate to.

But if the abstraction is more in the 'pure abstract' realm and there is no apparent connection to reality at all in the work ...nothing to relate it to or compare it to and it becomes harder for them to accept. Since there is no ready made place on their personal 'shelf of useful and important things' to put it. They can make a place by taking time to explore but many will take the easy way out and just reject it, saying 'this has nothing to do with me. it is useless and unimportant'.

But if they don't reject the object and choose to explore more, by that choice the viewer creates a space on the shelf of 'useful and important things' for this new thing, thus creating the window to be opened that saje has mentioned.

As to how far to go with abstraction may depend on what you want the viewer to experience ...although what ever you perceive as the reason you are making the abstraction the end user/viewer will probably have a different view of it. That is part of what art is all about. If you want to convey some idea or tell a story as in a narrative - and not be too literal about it - I think you need a point of reference. Maybe a starting and ending? or enough of a piece of the 'tale' or story that the viewer can pick up on it. And maybe that is where the artist statement comes into play. Giving the artists motivation. Sort of an instruction manual on how to see the art (as it was intended to be seen).

My personal point of view is that I create what I do in the way I see it and throw it out there. It is an accepted outcome that it may fall flat and have no resonance with anyone else. It is a very cavalier attitude but it enables me to work freely. There is probably little hope of creating a thriving business and income but aside from that I feel that art is about being true to what you need to make rather than finding a market.

Some have been very successful at finding a market and making money - so I don't want to infer that if you are successful it means you are compromising artistic vision. I am saying be true to what you want to do...

it'sALLart
04-11-2014, 08:03 AM
And maybe that is where the artist statement comes into play. Sort of an instruction manual on how to see the art (as it was intended to be seen).

There are many exhibitions by artists which take this route and, IMO, I think this is a huge mistake. Half of the experience of enjoying or viewing art is looking at it without ANY instruction and letting the work speak for itself. I've always been of the opinion that if a piece needs to be explained in order to be experienced and/or enjoyed, then the artist failed and the work is not successful.

I had to laugh when I read the word "manual" because I've seen a few exhibitions where there were 3-page statements posted on the wall with the work and they seemed like so many justifications and explanations (and a lot of B.S.) for what was generally (I thought) bad work, as if the artist figured the more they wrote, the more they could cover up how unsuccessful the work was.

artbymdp
04-11-2014, 10:01 AM
To answer the original post by saje; "yes" to all questions.

Creating a written philosophy to guide artwork is a valuable exercise for the artist. It is often very personal, esoteric and tedious but for the artist it becomes a guide for consistency and a baseline for change. Once the artwork is painted or sculpted the written philosophy should stay with the artist. As an artist, I personally enjoy knowing what motivates a fellow artist but I agree with Keith. During an exhibit, if an instruction manual needs to be referenced by the viewer then the artwork is broken.

ChristyQ
04-11-2014, 10:15 AM
There are many exhibitions by artists which take this route and, IMO, I think this is a huge mistake. Half of the experience of enjoying or viewing art is looking at it without ANY instruction and letting the work speak for itself. I've always been of the opinion that if a piece needs to be explained in order to be experienced and/or enjoyed, then the artist failed and the work is not successful.


I am not a fan of an instruction manual for work either. I think it can hurt the work more than help it when it comes to abstracts.

Imaginary example:
With an instruction manual... "Oh, that's supposed to be a dolphin... huh... I just don't see it. Maybe if I turn m head this way... ehh I don't see it..." Without a manual... "The colors on this piece are amazing, it looks so fluid and pretty."

davefriend
04-11-2014, 11:34 AM
The experience of art shouldn't need the manual. If our 'pictures' are really worth a thousand words then they should also evoke ten thousand thoughts in us. But there is more than that that comes through real art as the comments already made reveal. We all believe art to be so powerful because we have all had those moments seeing something that is beyond just words.

Visual impressions are so basic as to not need the words to support them, they transcends the barriers of language and reaches deeper inside us than any level of definitions and meanings can reach. It is like when we are ready and stand in front of something that really is art we can 'see' the harmony ...and the experience is very much akin to what happens when we hear music. Yet it is not the same as music, it is communication and connection beyond sound also.

saje
04-11-2014, 11:37 AM
Then there should be no titles or if so only verbs, no nouns. I agree that the purity of abstraction would be beyond language. Bit then is not poetic descriptive doubling the ambiguity. Calling our art purely by numerical identification seems robotic and meaningless.

davefriend
04-11-2014, 11:43 AM
Even though art is beyond words and different than music, it shouldn't preclude the use of them in subordinate roles to support the 'lesser' senses.

artbymdp
04-11-2014, 12:40 PM
Saje, there is an enormous difference between using literary words to enhance the artwork and using esoteric words to explain the artwork. Great buildings, once completed, do not rely of the architectural drawings to be understood. Great people do not rely on autobiographies to demonstrate their character. Great paintings and sculpture do not rely on the artist explanation to conjure expression.

DMSS
04-11-2014, 01:00 PM
Saje, there is an enormous difference between using literary words to enhance the artwork and using esoteric words to explain the artwork. Great buildings, once completed, do not rely of the architectural drawings to be understood. Great people do not rely on autobiographies to demonstrate their character. Great paintings and sculpture do not rely on the artist explanation to conjure expression.
I agree. And I think one can give a piece a title if one chooses. When I am viewing work at a gallery or in a book, I usually find artist statements counterproductive and often impossible to understand or relate to the work. They seem to communicate that I am not worthy of looking at the art because I'm not smart enough to understand the statement. I strongly prefer to engage with a work in a purely visual way first, and then after I've done that I am interested in its title, and then after that other information might be interesting to me.

DMSS
04-11-2014, 01:33 PM
With regard to titles, we don't always control what a work is called. My wife points out that some works are named by collectors and curators, and artists do not always name even a representational work.

Notwithstanding all of this, artists are free to use words in titles, in the work itself, in accompanying poetry (which I sometimes enjoy), in an explanatory text, in an accompanying audio file, etc. Perhaps using words in some of these ways makes the piece multimedia, i.e., not merely a painting.

Another question along these lines: are artists trying to communicate when we display our work, such that we have intentions about what a viewer perceives, thinks or feels, or do we just paint for ourselves, and let go of the work and any concept of intention when we display it?

saje
04-11-2014, 06:13 PM
i always use titles. sometimes I sculpt toward the meaning/title in conception and sometimes I must dwell (current piece) on the meaning though the imagery has been completed for weeks. A manual is excessive but I honestly love to read, hear others interpretations. I would have no problem with a sculpture have a traveling diary of interpretations. these pieces are not abstract but often can have one side of them that is abstract to varying degrees.

ChristyQ
04-11-2014, 06:59 PM
i always use titles. sometimes I sculpt toward the meaning/title in conception and sometimes I must dwell (current piece) on the meaning though the imagery has been completed for weeks. A manual is excessive but I honestly love to read, hear others interpretations. I would have no problem with a sculpture have a traveling diary of interpretations. these pieces are not abstract but often can have one side of them that is abstract to varying degrees.

Titles are fine in my opinion because it's just a word or a short blurb that is open to interpretation. 'Whale' or even 'A whale jumping over a rainbow in the shape of a unicorn riding a bicycle over the mountain of frogs' still sounds better than having a little booklet that says where the whale is and what it is doing. A manual makes it feel more like work or a test, like some sort of scientific breakdown of a painting rather than an emotional experience.

A diary of interpretations sounds fine, and actually really neat. I'd love to hear how others interpreted a piece.
For an artist to include a step by step guide of what you should be feeling and seeing seems so wrong to me and like it would alienate people who didn't see/feel what they were supposed to.

Eraethil
04-12-2014, 12:50 AM
Great discussion so far! I agree that a manual for interpretation of a piece is undesirable. But on the other hand, text that adds to the piece in some fashion can be very effective. So indeed, titling a piece might qualify it as multimedia in some situations.

Personally, I like to use titles, leaving them vague enough that the viewer can find several personal meanings in the title to explore the work. I can imagine using audio, or lighting changes, or an essay or poem as additional media in combination with a painting or a sculpture. I would not want to explain the work using the additional media, but add to it somehow.

Another great idea IMO is to use additional media like these as audience engagement mechanisms, allowing the viewer to add to the work as well. There is a good deal of vulnerability in potentially having your work co-opted by an unruly teenager or a cantankerous senior, but in the right circumstances it can provide a more immersive and memorable experience.

Eraethil
04-12-2014, 01:02 AM
To the original question, I've always found the very wide and fuzzy boundary between abstraction and representation an exciting area to explore.

How far can you push a realistic subject into abstraction and still retain some level of recognition, conscious or subconscious from the viewer? And it is always interesting to paint intuitively, finding and developing representational components as the image speaks to you.

Art does not have to communicate something obviously or even effectively to the viewer. It can be a jumping off point instead, and the amount of recognizable imagery included can influence how widely varied the responses are as well as whether the viewer can relate to the work at all.

dgford
04-12-2014, 08:02 AM
A simple question Ś what is the difference between "abstract" and "non-realistic" ?

For me, when I abstract any innate quality or essence of a subject and use any artistic means or method to portray that quality than I have made an "abstract" painting.

If I have a medium and my imagination to put together a composition of non-recognisable elements, exploiting any or all the qualities of colour, composition, texture, tone, etc., (where anyone else's reaction doesn't really matter) in a stimulating or satisfying manner, then I believe that I have created a "non-realistic" painting.

Where I have used semi-recognisable elements to invite communication by others, what term do I use? Certainly, "abstract" could include that. I suggest that the term "extended realism" may be more apt.

My gripe is that the term "abstract" is too loosely used and is totally unrelated to the meaning of the word. One requires cerebral involvement with the subject, the other needs only personal involvement in a flight of fancy.

Geoff

DMSS
04-12-2014, 08:15 AM
A simple question Ś what is the difference between "abstract" and "non-realistic" ?
It has occurred to me that "abstract" and "realism" are very broad terms. Are there more precise or useful terms that people use?

saje
04-12-2014, 08:37 AM
To me a pure abstraction has no realism imagery. Pure Realism is pure reality with little ambiguity.

saje
04-12-2014, 08:42 AM
To the original question, I've always found the very wide and fuzzy boundary between abstraction and representation an exciting area to explore.

How far can you push a realistic subject into abstraction and still retain some level of recognition, conscious or subconscious from the viewer? And it is always interesting to paint intuitively, finding and developing representational components as the image speaks to you.

Art does not have to communicate something obviously or even effectively to the viewer. It can be a jumping off point instead, and the amount of recognizable imagery included can influence how widely varied the responses are as well as whether the viewer can relate to the work at all.
Excrllent, beauty!

it'sALLart
04-12-2014, 09:00 AM
IMO, abstract should not have any recognizable objects or environments. I see a lot of work labeled abstract that is clearly NOT abstract and it's a bit irritating that people misuse the term. I've even seen galleries do this.

That said, I am in agreement with Rick, some of the most engaging work for me is that which bridges the gap between abstraction and reality or realistic scenes/faces/things painted abstractedly. One of the hardest genres of art to do successfully.

The work's title is the last little piece of control we have before it goes out into the world. It can push the viewer toward what our vision was, even if they don't quite see it, at least we pointed them in the direction we wanted them to go. They might wander off the path... and that's OK too.

birdhs
04-12-2014, 12:08 PM
"To me a pure abstraction has no realism imagery."

http://arthistory.about.com/od/glossary_n/a/n_nonobjective_art.htm

(noun) - Nonobjective art is another way to refer to Abstract art or nonrepresentational art. Essentially, the artwork does not represent or depict a person, place or thing in the natural world. Usually, the content of the work is its color, shapes, brushstrokes, size, scale, and, in some cases, its process.

For more information, see: Abstract Art; Action Painting; Abstract Expressionism

I often hear "Abstract", which to me is a very broad and inclusive term, confused with the more specific term "non-objective abstract".

In art history classes, and in drawing/painting, even color theory classes, my instructors were always careful to ID in a more specifgic way. Modern, Modernistic, etc is also often referred to Abstract, and the discussions on that has rambled on.

I refer to much of my art as "Abstract Realism". It is what I choose to call it. The car (usually) is recognizable as a car, hence the "realism", but it has been rendered in an unrealistic manner, hence eit has been 'abstracted'.

Picassos's 'people' are one of my inspirations, they are created from real people, yet are not done it a realistic manner. but are obviously people.

I always have subtle and related titles to my works, there is often more of a story behind the title than there is behind the painting.

I am enjoying this discussion, it is so interesting all the different ways of looking at Art. And all the labels that we humans create to define things.

all I am hoping for is for one person to say "Nice Art!" when they see my paintings. and then to write a check. They can then explain it to their friends any way they want....

greggo

davefriend
04-12-2014, 12:21 PM
abĚstract [adj. ab-strakt, ab-strakt; n. ab-strakt; v. ab-strakt for 10ľ13, ab-strakt for 14]

adjective

1.thought of apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances: an abstract idea.
2.expressing a quality or characteristic apart from any specific object or instance, as justice, poverty, and speed.
3.theoretical; not applied or practical: abstract science.
4.difficult to understand; abstruse: abstract speculations.
5.Fine Arts.
a.of or pertaining to the formal aspect of art, emphasizing lines, colors, generalized or geometrical forms, etc., especially with reference to their relationship to one another.
b.( often initial capital letter ) pertaining to the nonrepresentational art styles of the 20th century.
6.a summary of a text, scientific article, document, speech, etc.; epitome.
7.something that concentrates in itself the essential qualities of anything more extensive or more general, or of several things; essence.
8.an idea or term considered apart from some material basis or object.
9.an abstract work of art.
verb (used with object)
10.to draw or take away; remove.
11.to divert or draw away the attention of.
12.to steal.
13.to consider as a general quality or characteristic apart from specific objects or instances: to abstract the notions of time, space, and matter.
14.to make an abstract of; summarize.
Idioms
15.abstract away from, to omit from consideration.
16.in the abstract, without reference to a specific object or instance; in theory: beauty in the abstract.

Origin:1400ľ50; late Middle English: withdrawn from worldly interests < Latin abstractus drawn off (past participle of abstrahere ). See abs-, tract1

Related forms

abĚstractĚer, noun
abĚstractĚly, adverb
abĚstractĚness, noun
nonĚabĚstract, adjective, noun
nonĚabĚstractĚly, adverb

~~~From http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/abstract?s=t
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

semi-abĚstract [sem-ee-ab-strakt, -ab-strakt, sem-ahy-]

adjective

pertaining to or designating a style of painting or sculpture in which the subject remains recognizable although the forms are highly stylized in a manner derived from abstract art.

Origin:
1940ľ45

Related forms

semĚi-abĚstracĚtion [sem-ee-ab-strak-shuhn, sem-ahy-] noun

~~~From http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/semi-abstract?s=t

birdhs
04-12-2014, 01:00 PM
12. to steal

I had never used the term in that specific sense, did not know this meaning existed...how interesting....but I am curious if I could even use it correctly in a sentence.

sounds like a great Jeopardy question!

ChristyQ
04-12-2014, 02:34 PM
12. to steal

I had never used the term in that specific sense, did not know this meaning existed...how interesting....but I am curious if I could even use it correctly in a sentence.

sounds like a great Jeopardy question!

I'm going to abstract your post. :lol: :lol: :lol:

birdhs
04-12-2014, 04:28 PM
It seems the 1996 Bartlett's Thesaurus (the big one) on 749.3 subtract: lists abstract as an adjective , in the sense of removing/taking away, so I guess if it 'taken away' illegally, then that would be 'stealing.

so if I snucked into your studio in the middle of the night and 'abstracted' some paint from your realistic painting then ....

sigh...way too much yard work today, I think I baked my brain.

Eraethil
04-13-2014, 12:43 AM
My background in information system design has lent a slightly different perspective to the term "abstraction" that I have always considered to be the essential core of the term. The closest definition to this concept listed above is number 10 or perhaps 14, I guess.

Abstraction can be referred to as "information hiding." In situations where one is studying or designing a system that is highly complex, abstraction is used to hide some of the complexity from evaluation or view. We choose the essential components of the system that we want to expose.

This is very similar to what we do in fine art, especially as it relates to representational abstraction. (or abstract realism in greggo's vernacular) We choose the essential components of a subject that we want to expose to the viewer. Part of the job of the abstract artist in this genre is to use their subjective vision to decide what is essential - what can inform the viewer most effectively. In this way, representational abstraction is much closer to realism than to non-representational abstraction.

It can also be related to non-representational abstraction, in that the artist decides which elements, of all of the elements of composition they could use, that they will use. But really, this is not the same thing is it?

Using this perspective there is a high stone wall between representational and non-representational art; and a picket fence between abstract and realist art.

birdhs
04-13-2014, 08:20 AM
"Using this perspective there is a high stone wall between representational and non-representational art; and a picket fence between abstract and realist art."

very well phrased

and looking at the fence from one side it is different to each artist.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Apr-2014/110200-2011-08-11-dtw-MLK-Central-061-450.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Apr-2014/110200-2011-08-11-dtw-MLK-Central-061-450_copy.jpg

saje
04-13-2014, 10:08 AM
Using this perspective there is a high stone wall between representational and non-representational art; and a picket fence between abstract and realist art.

Rich, your words are information that need digested and absorbed representationally and non-representationally. I am sure there is some abstraction in your knowledge there but we will 'live it out' of hiding (or steal it). Your quote above has become a parallel meaning to this most recent sculpture-

the head of realism, the wall and then the representational

Ishka Baha
04-13-2014, 01:37 PM
Saje and Christy have a very valid point here. I would love to have been able to read other people's interpretations of some of the 'real' abstract paintings I saw today in the Tate Modern e.g. Mondrian, Rothko etc. It might have opened my eyes more to understanding them!