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Abstract Art Is Awesome
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Abstract Art is Awesome

In order to understand Abstract Art, you must suspend your understanding of order. We have all witnessed first hand, I'm sure, people who harbor a disdain, disgust, and hatred of abstract art. People have their opinions; I'm not here to argue that, but many an opinion is formed with certainty on little or no information. I'm assuming that you're looking at this post because you are interested in at least giving the abstract a bit of a chance before you decide it's stupid and dismiss it. Thank you.

Abstract Art began in the late 1800s, with Impressionism, where artists were going out into the field and to paint quickly what they see as accurately as possible without getting hung up on details. Abstract Impressionism moved away from the figurative realism that had been the requirement of professional art prior. Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse and Edward Monet are all great examples of this movement.

The invention of photography in the 1830s really set loose this movement. Before photographs the only techologically available visual record of events was through the artist; the painter, the sculpture, and those who drew. So, artists were trained in techniques that encouraged physical accuracy and a visual story, but photography removed the necessity of a person to physically recreate images with these mediums and intentions.

It seems a natural move for artists to begin exploring different forms of creativity given they were becoming obsolete in this fashion. Of course, this is oversimplified and there are no clean lines in art history. This is also heavily influenced by the official or institutional recognition of art, and all of the labels have been assigned by curators, art critics, and art historians who want to control the representation of art. (Another article)

The demand for artists never waned, though, artists made the shift and those who bought and sold art shifted with them. Artists began drawing from areas of life other than visual to expand and progress in their field. Rather than simply following the dictates of church officials or attempting to meet the expectations of some rich person demanding a portrait or a landscape, they attempted to convey visually a thought or emotion. In painting from life they tried to emulate a mood or even a philosophy rather than simply create a recognisable image of a popular story, a person, or a place.

Theories began to emerge about how colors and shapes affect mood, and experiments with both gave rise to many different movements including cubism, feauvism, and expressionism. It's hard to keep up with all the movements and genres in the art industry. But as far as understanding abstract art one must realize that it is more than simply splattering paint on a canvas. The artist is attempting to relate deep personal feelings and ideas to the viewer.

Everyone who is a true artist, even those who are uneducated, will form some reason and purpose for creating what they do. It is the amatuer that throws together something they think looks neat and calls it art. I confess to having been one of these in the past. At best it may be craft, at worst it's garbage. Of course, that doesn't stop folks from being wildly successful, financially, with things that look neat which is a symptom of the destruction wrought in the twentieth century by folks like Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, and Salvadore Dali.

This destruction was necessary, because visual art needed to break away from trying to simply capture life on a canvas or in a sculpture; technology was far better and faster at doing that than the human. But machines have no concept of what is inside a human, and that is exactly what great artists today work to reveal.

Maybe this is where the disdain for the abstract comes from in some people. They have no desire to see or to feel what lies inside anyone else or even themselves. I personally think it's more ignorance than anything else, but it does take an immense amount of courage, openness, and empathy to accept that people express themselves in infinitely different ways.


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