Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘abstraction’

16septredunder

There are twelve people in the Mondrian group and every one of these artist/students has a different approach.  We admire each other’s work, but do our own thing. This is enormously satisfying to me.

Here’s Keven Wilder’s first painting of this fall term, oil on canvas, 36” x 36.” The under-painting is red.  The red lines were scraped in while the greens were still wet.  Making a statement by a process of subtraction is exhilarating.  You don’t see this in the reproduction or at a distance.  You have to move in close and then the red lines strike like a revelation, which, in fact, they are.

I invite you to see this saying-something-by-not-saying as a key to entering abstraction.

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/treesnot/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/confetti/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/exhibit-at-ethical-humanist-society/

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.katherinehilden.com

www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

MondrianTree6

Oh, trees!

If you’re a Mondrian-lover you stand in front of one of his paintings, like the one above, and exclaim, “I just love the way he painted trees!”  Right?

You have a friend who doesn’t understand Mondrian, so you volunteer to give her a tour of the moderns at the Art Institute of Chicago or the MoMa.  You position yourselves in front of the Mondrians, and you learnedly explain that here we have the essence of tree-ness.  Right?

Mondrian was painting simplified trees.  Right?

Mondrian drew diagrams of trees. Right?

Abstract trees. Right?

Oh, please!

No one has ever looked at a Mondrian and seen trees. Right?

Right!!!!!

Then why do we constantly get the evolution of his paintings—The Mondrians—from trees.

http://emptyeasel.com/2007/04/17/piet-mondrian-the-evolution-of-pure-abstract-paintings/

MondrianTree1

[The] process of simplification and reduction would continue until he wasn’t even painting from nature at all.

The rise of Cubism also gave Mondrian a means to segment and reduce objects to their most basic forms.

MondrianTree2

Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) lived in Paris when he was in his early 40’s.  There he met Braque and other Cubists.

To interpret Cubism as “reducing objects to their most basic forms”  is as blatantly ridiculous as the other cliché about cubism, namely that a cubist painting shows us an object from all four sides.  I’ll post just one example here, Picasso’s “Portrait of D.H. Kahnweiler,” 1910. Have a good look. You are seeing Mr. Kahnweiler’s “basic forms” and you’re seeing him from all “four sides.” Correct?

kahnweil

Really?

LOOK!

Cubism is so scary to think about that people, even otherwise intelligent people, repeat these absurdities about “basic forms” and “four sides.”  You’ll find this sort of thing not only on internet pages but, with more academic circumlocutions, in serious publications. The Cubists—Picasso and Braque–are scary to think about because they made a clean break with the past.  Naughty, naughty. Thou shalt honor thy father and mother…  The only father the Cubists honored was Cézanne and he, in Robert Hughes’ words, painted DOUBT.

Let’s see now, we don’t have any commandments honoring doubt.

In 1910, art that threw out all previous assumptions was difficult to take.  Still is.  But doubt is so much more invigorating than having answers without first having questions.  Medieval certainties and Renaissance illustrations of mythological characters are not invigorating, are they?!

The Cubists—and they didn’t call themselves that—came up with something new.  The painting is now not an illustration but a work in its own right.

You must be kidding?  In its own right?  The audacity!

That’s right.  Audacity.

So, are Mondrian’s paintings abstractions or essences or diagrams of trees?  No.  They are something completely new.  They stand in their own right as objects.  Something to contemplate.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.katherinehilden.com

www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

15OctRedBlackYellHoriz
It’s something. But what!
I can explain why you would want to figure out what this represents: 1) there are definite shapes, 2) they’re clearly delineated, 3) they’re centrally placed and 4) there’s even an illusion of a horizon. So, of course, your smart, verbal brain gets to work on this puzzle. As soon as you’ve decided that the yellow square represents a structure, a building, say, you can move to the dip on its right and decide that here you have a valley and then you keep moving to the right and you can see an extended city block and, oh dear, this is not working. It’s just not coherent as a landscape at all. Even if you stick to the landscape-cityscape interpretation, what’s underneath the horizontal black mass just doesn’t compute. I mean, what’s that lavender roundish thing and that blue triangle there and then that blue smudge? Your brain now goes into overdrive and crashes. Wonderful! You’re having an aesthetic experience. You have entered the state of pure seeing. Congratulations.
It’s not easy to make art like this. Takes tremendous concentration.
Painting by Maria Palacios. Acrylic on canvas, 30”x 40”
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
http://facefame.wordpress.com
http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com
http://www.katherinehilden.com
http://www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

HaroldSwoive
It’s not quite white, has some grayish texture. But we’ll call it white because it’s so dramatic against the blue. This painting started as a landscape and got more and more geometrical and crisp. The white swirl is pure invention. Brilliant. If this were painted much larger it would be brrrrilllllianttttt.
Painting by Harold Bauer, ~20×16. Oil on canvas.
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
http://facefame.wordpress.com
http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com
http://www.katherinehilden.com
http://www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

Kandinski
When he was in his thirties, Kandinsky got serious about art. He abandoned his law background and went to Paris to study art. It was 1900 and the arts were popping, all of them, in all forms. In literature, music and painting new forms were being invented, radically new ways of thinking about art were discussed in the cafes. I mentioned some artists and writers in the previous post. In science, too, let’s not forget, radically new ways of thinking about time and space were under discussion. Einstein published his theory in 1905.
This is the beginning of our modernism, which was not at all entertaining, but deadly serious about leading humanity into a new consciousness. The moderns wanted nothing less than to invent a new man. One of their ambitions was to intensify our perception of the world by fusing the senses. So that, for example, sound would be seen and paintings would be heard like music.
Schopenhauer, already in the early 19th century, had said that all art aspires to the conditions of music. This is not hard to understand. Think about it for a minute: music does not imitate anything; it is sound that is non-representational, is freely invented; the sounds we hear in nature come from birds chirping, leaves rustling in the wind and doors creaking, but music doesn’t duplicate those sounds. The composer/musician makes things up. Music is pure form. It’s abstract. It’s also the most moving of the arts. Grabs us, makes us cry, makes us dance.
Here are some quotes from Kandinsky ‘s Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1911) to show how he thought about the relationship between music and painting and the necessity of free invention:
p. 19 Despite, or perhaps thanks to, the differences between them (the arts), there has never been a time when the arts approached each other more nearly than they do today, in this later phase of spiritual development.
In each manifestation is the seed of a striving towards the abstract, the non-material. Consciously or unconsciously they are obeying Socrates’ command—Know thyself. Consciously or unconsciously artists are studying and proving their material, setting in the balance the spiritual value of those elements, with which it is their several privilege to work.
And the natural result of this striving is that the various arts are drawing together. They are finding in Music the best teacher. With few exceptions music has been for some centuries the art which has devoted itself not to the reproduction of natural phenomena, but rather to the expression of the artist’s soul, in musical sound.
P33 The adaptability of forms, their organic but inward variations, their motion in the picture, their inclination to material or abstract, their mutual relations, either individually or as parts of a whole; further, the concord or discord of the various elements of a picture, the handling of groups, the combinations of veiled and openly expressed appeals, the use of rhythmical or unrhythmical, of geometrical or non-geometrical forms, their contiguity or separation—all these things are the material for counterpoint in painting.
P32 There is no “must” in art, because art is free.
P19 (The painter) naturally seeks to apply the methods of music to his own art. And from this results that modern desire for rhythm on painting, for mathematical, abstract construction, for repeated notes of color, for setting color in motion.
P53 The work of art is born of the artist in a mysterious and secret way…It exists and has power to create spiritual atmosphere; and from this inner standpoint one judges whether it is a good work of art or a bad one…A picture is not necessarily “well painted” if it possesses the “values of which French so constantly speak. It is only well painted if its spiritual value is complete and satisfying. “Good drawing” is drawing that cannot be altered without destruction of this inner value, quite irrespective of its correctness as anatomy, botany, or any other science. There is no question of a violation natural form, but only of the need of the artist for such form. Similarly colors are used not because they are true to nature, but because they are necessary to the particular picture. In fact, the artist is not only justified in using, but it is his duty to use only those forms which fulfill his own need. Absolute freedom, whether from anatomy or anything of the kind, must be given the artist in his choice of material Such spiritual freedom is as necessary in art at it is in life.

Kandinsky repeatedly expresses his optimism about the possibility of inventing a new way of being human. He is not alone. This is before the cataclysm of the 1914 World War. He shares his vision of a future with some contemporaries, including the theosophists. He quotes Madame Blavatsky’s book The Key to Theosophy, 1889: “The earth will be a heaven in the twenty-first century in comparison with what it is now.” P 14 (Alas, that didn’t happen. The 20th century was the bloodiest in history.)
P57 …in my opinion, we are fast approaching the time of reasoned and conscious composition, when the painter will be proud to declare his work constructive. This will be in contrast to the claim of the Impressionists that they could explain nothing, that their art came upon them by inspiration. We have before us the age of conscious creation, and this new spirit in painting is going hand in hand with the spirit of thought towards an epoch of great spiritual leaders.
P54 Painting is an art, and art is not vague production, transitory and isolated, but a power which must be directed to the improvement and refinement of the human soul.
P31 We may be present at the conception of a new epoch, or we may see the opportunity squandered in aimless extravagance.
P12 That which belongs to the spirit of the future can only be realized in feeling, and to this feeling the talent of the artist is the only road.

For excellent reproductions of some of Kandinsky’s paintings, see http://www.wassily-kandinsky.org/wassily-kandinsky-paintings.jsp Click the image for enlargement to study.

Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
http://facefame.wordpress.com
http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com
http://www.katherinehilden.com
http://www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

14StillLifeBosMaggyDBecause these boxes are not big (about 8-10 inches long), there was a Stage Set for every student, who 14StillLifeBosMaggyEcould move to get different angles of the thing. During this class, Maggy did two drawings of the same box, from slightly different angles. As in the previous class, she saw forms, this time playing with the repetition of triangles and trapezoids.
Her second drawing is shown here, top. This is fun to look at. It’s witty, in that some things are clearly stated, and some leave you guessing. You can tell 14StillLifeBosMaggyCthat she had worked through some possibilities and was committed to abstraction. Her first drawing of the same motif, at left, is more tentative. I recommend that students plan on doing more than one drawing, where the first one allows you to get your bearing on this subject in front of you and the second one will therefore by drawn with more conviction and daring.
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
http://www.khilden.com
http://facefame.wordpress.com
http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com
http://www.katherinehilden.com

Read Full Post »

14StillLifeBosMaggyBWhen you’re drawing the stuff of still life, there will be no hurt feelings. No box, bottle or drapery rag will accuse you of being shallow or insensitive or getting the proportions wrong. Not only is this, then, an 14StillLifeBosMaggyAinvitation to scribble away with abandon and produce new, improved markmaking, but it’s also an opportunity to see form, i.e., to go for abstraction. This is what happened with Maggy’s Stage Set with Circular Forms.
I find this drawing daring and exhilarating. Notice the tilted round container at lower left: it’s the only thing drawn with the illusion of three-dimensionality. All its shadows and reflected light are academically correct so that it looks convincing in the classical sense. Everything else in this composition is texture and a play on forms.
The z-curve as a suggestion of drapery exists in its own abstract world. You want to be reminded of drapery? Fine. But this line asserts itself for its own pleasure and as a counterpoint to the rectilinearity on the other side.
It may seem simple. How hard can it be to put an s-curve on a piece of paper! Well, not physically, that’s nothing. But to be so in tune with your drawing that you can see that this z-curve in that part of the drawing will be just right, for that you need to be having a good day at your drawing board.
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
http://www.khilden.com
http://facefame.wordpress.com
http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com
http://www.katherinehilden.com

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »