ABSTRACTION is a general term but understanding its beginnings is helpful in understanding its many iterations throughout art history. Since the next unit of study will focus on Abstract Expressionism (AbEx), starting with a review of ABSTRACTION in general will be helpful. Additionally, this project will reinforce your investigation of the properties of ART (subject, composition, content) as well as the importance of COLOR.
From MoMA Learning - Abstract Expressionism:
"Abstract Expressionism is a term applied to a movement in American painting that flourished in New York City after World War II, sometimes referred to as the New York School or, more narrowly, as action painting. The varied work produced by the Abstract Expressionists resists definition as a cohesive style; instead, these artists shared an interest in using abstraction to convey strong emotional or expressive content. These artists moved away from European traditions of painting to create a distinctly American kind of art, which both acknowledged and challenged the domination of early 20th century giants such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Vasily Kandinsky.
Abstract Expressionism is best known for large-scale paintings that break away from traditional processes, often taking the canvas off of the easel and using unconventional materials such as house paint. While Abstract Expressionism is often considered for its advancements in painting, its ideas had deep resonance in many media, including drawing and sculpture."
- IF A PAINTING IS NON-OBJECTIVE, DOES IT STILL HAVE A SUBJECT?
- IF THE SUBJECT OF A PAINTING IS NON-REPRESENTATIONAL, IS COMPOSITION STILL IMPORTANT?
- IF A PAINTING IS NON-OBJECTIVE, CAN IT (SHOULD IT) HAVE CONTENT?
- IF A PAINTING IS NON-REPRESENTATIONAL, DOES COLOR CHOICE MATTER?
- Gesture and mark-making (action painting)
- Paint type and application (media, tools, and processes)
- Layers and edges (figure/ground relationship)
- Color theory (perceived v. emotional responses)
Speaking of color theory, GO TO THE COLOR PAGE. What do you already know? What do you need to review? What is completely new to you? Do you remember the terms below? From this list, which do you think are the most important in the context of AbEx painting?
- LOCAL COLOR - the natural color of an object in ordinary daylight, uninfluenced by the proximity of other colors.
- OPTICAL COLOR - the way a color appears, depending on the proximal colors and specific lighting situation.
- ARBITRARY COLOR - color selected by the artist based on personal, emotional, or symbolic preferences and content of the work.
- The video below illustrates the concept of simultaneous contrast. The colored square in the center is the SAME yellow throughout but APPEARS to be a different yellow, simply because of its surrounding color. Pretty cool - and helps you to understand the importance of your color choices!
- The video below further illustrates the concept of simultaneous contrast and gives you a chance to test your visual acuity. Again, the purpose here is to illustrate how powerful a tool simultaneous contrast is - and therefore drive home the importance of color choice to an artist.
- Color is Relative (make sure to watch the jazzy little instructional video)
- More explanations about simultaneous contrast with practice assignments (some of which you will do in class)
- How to use Simultaneous Contrast in Painting
- YouTube playlist - AB EX NY at MoMA
- YouTube playlist - The Rules of Abstraction w/Michael Collings
- The processes and materials of Abstract Expressionist painting
- Female Abstract Expressionist Painters
- Jackson Pollock's First Love Was Sculpture, Not Painting
- Mark Rothko - Seagram Murals - National Gallery of Art (once on the page watch the video, which is linked on the right)
- Heather Hansen - Kinetic drawing