Understanding Abstract Art Essay Research Paper Almost

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Understanding Abstract Art Essay, Research Paper Almost all artwork in the western world has depicted a subject easily recognizable to the viewer up until the beginning of this century. Art without a recognizable subject matter, known as ?abstract art?, is unique to this period. Abstract art hasn?t been analyzed on its own in as much detail as other styles of art more easily defined. Instead it often times gets placed in a more general category called ?Modernism?. This, perhaps, is a result of its diversity. Artists working in the abstract genre don?t belong to a single movement, which makes the true definition difficult to arrive at. If we were to say abstract art is non-representational or non-objective, we would be implying that it has no relation to natural objects.

(Rosenthal 1) Terminology therefore becomes almost a barrier when analyzing art and especially abstract art. The word abstraction is primarily used because it is widely accepted in contemporary usage and isn?t necessarily the single, most appropriate term. Artists of our time have begun creating works of art without any apparent subject matter at all and basing them essentially on formal composition. Many of the artists whom work in this manner are expressing their emotions while reducing or eliminating references to the physical world. For someone new to this form of art it offers very little clues as to its content or subject matter. Without an understanding of what the artists are trying to express we can experience certain difficulties when viewing an abstract piece of art.

This is what causes people not to take it seriously and why only very few people could say that abstraction takes on a seriousness and complexity equivalent to the great masterpieces of the past. (Rosenthal 1) Artists of abstract paintings put a lot of demands on the observer for they give them no starting place in the natural world. The observer is required to fully absorb him or herself in the painting. The artist usually tries not to exclude the observer from the piece instead he/she tries to affect or communicate with the observer by use of traditional visual language. If they wanted to convey serenity they might use soft symmetrical compositions or sharp diagonal lines to emphasize struggle. (Rosenthal 3) In order to appreciate and judge any work of art it is first necessary

to understand the artist?s intentions. Once the viewer has a firm understanding of what the artist meant to do or tried to express they can then judge the degree of success the artist had. One of the earliest abstract painters, Wassily Kandinsky, is an important figure because he was also one of the first to try and explain why he was doing it. He described one of his first experiences with abstract art which to him was very personal and unique, he said: ?I was returning, immersed in thought, from my sketching, when on opening the studio door, I was confronted by a picture of indescribable and incandescent loveliness. Bewildered, I stopped, staring at it. The painting lacked all subject, depicted no identifiable object and was entirely composed of bright color patches. Finally I

approached closer and only then recognized it for what it really was ? my own painting, standing on its side on the easel?One thing became clear to me ? that objectiveness, the depiction of objects, needed no place in my paintings, and was indeed harmful to them.? (Read 190) He felt that it was necessary for the viewer to learn how to look at his paintings, which in part meant disregarding the habits acquired from looking at representational art. The temptation to try and see a familiar object in a blob is often times irresistible. This urge makes it exceedingly difficult to create a truly abstract image. (Whitford 29-30) In his earlier work, his abstraction was never so pure that it did not have an implied or intentionally subliminal subject. Even in his pictures that he