"Abstract" in Art


"Abstract" doesn't seem to mean the same thing in art as it does in common parlance or philosophy. Or it means many things, as an antonym of a family of terms: realistic, representational, figurative, objective... An abstract noun is opposed to a concrete one,

but an abstract painting can be quite concrete, in some senses. Frank Stella began building painted structures protruding from the painted canvas in 195? Framing paintings went out of style at a time when art was presented as an object in inself, not as a "picture" of anything.

I've been retracing the twisted path from the French Impressionists onward (say, 1860-1970), and from contemporary art backward to understand the fascination and lure of "abstraction" in painting. cantwisted. Right now, it seems to me that modernism gave way to "post-modernism" when/as abstraction gave way to Minimalism and Conceptualism, and further that it happened between 1953-60.

Rauschenberg's white panels (1953) -- varying numbers of wood panels painted with house paint and affixed to the wall--- seem to have completed the process started by Malevich with White on White and Black Square. The panels entirely block the viewer's inclination to find something to look at, and initially made some art patrons very angry. But when they see the panel as an object, and look closely, they see sublties of light and dust particles, reflections of their place and time. Rauschenberg instructed that they be repainted from time to time with Benjamin Moore, to retain their reflective quality.

In further posts, I'll talk about other artists/work in this decade, and muse how/whether this search has revealed anything.

#artspeakes #artnotes

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