Abstract Art

Burt Kocain's picture

I'm ambivalent about abstract, or non-representational, art. Mostly because I can't be arsed to get into a synergy with the artist, thereby creating the work between us. I think, you're the painter, pal - gimme a picture of something, ya lazy bum. Flowers, some fat naked broad, don't make much difference to me, so long as I can tell what it's supposed to be. But this, I think, has something going for it. I like the relationships of the colours, the way the shapes form a composition that is at once coherent yet on the verge of falling apart. It's dynamic - like a snapshot of something moving fast. It's nicely restrained, not a mess, and more importantly, looks the right way up, unlike a lot of abstract art. I really, really, like it.

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you sure it shouldn't it be landscape rather than portrait

in fact is it a landscape or a portrait?

Any ideas about the artist? European? American? Is it in Peggy Guggenheim's collection?

A great man.

is the real artist basquiat ( spelling?)

Bubbles. And it's his jacket, okay?

So am I to understand that Mungo Jerry's singer has taken up painting?

The artist has stated that he paints "representational pictures of emotional situations."

Well, I thought I did, and a quick check confirms it's Howard Hodgkin, not a chimpanzee. This isn't one of my favourites of his, though. Happy-making! Hoorah!

Can you post one of your favourites?

There's something of an early UK Pop Art feel to this - a little Kitaj, a little Hockney. I love this period (and no, I'm not Googling this shit).

There are exceptions to the rule though.

I like Jackson Pollock's action paintings. Mr Pencilsqueezer's (of this parish) wonderful paintings. Kandinsky has his moments.

But mostly I look at abstract art and just think "well, my six year old could have done a better job".

Each to their own though.

as The Man From Porlock. "Hauntingly evocative" - The Evening Standard.

But that frame's a shocker.

evoke the Italian flag, which makes me wonder whether there is some political context.

Can I join in?

You must find your own conversation with the piece if you are to uncover it's true beauty. But I'm seeing a kind of nightmare Italian Butlins in 1972, somewhere near Palermo.

It is called Trane No.5 "Vanguard"

It is inspired by John Coltrane Live At The Village Vanguard, which is Trane at his best. The thing is, the more you look at it (& the photo doesn't do the actual painting justice), the more you can hear Trane playing his unique, spiritual, revolutionary, uplifting music. So, it might not be a picture of something but when you look at it, you can see music. Amazing!

Can you get onto the mods about Mr Squeezer doing a new shopfront for this place? You have suction with these people. Me, I got no suction with these people. You got suction.

My lips are sealed.

to prevent you putting afoot in ?

That and wearing boxing gloves at all times.

I'll have a word ;-)

In negative.

Catterline in Winter by Eardley; between representational & abstract?


He's no Bubbles, that's for sure.

easier on laptop... i was being iphone-lazy
and no, Joan Eardley ain't no chimp ;-)

She's no Bubbles. (Great picture, though, all the same).

It seems redundant to point out that abstraction has to have a starting point in the physical world. One cannot "abstract" from nothingness.
A lot of my paintings are about my responses on a physical, emotional and spiritual level to music but woven into many is a deep and abiding love of the natural world.
Chimpanzees just slosh paint about.
I wish I could paint with the same abandon.

It's because he's a chimpanzee, isn't it?

I've ever been to was a retrospective of a Swiss artist who had painted the same local scene, a bridge, multiple times over the course of his life.

The paintings started out as turn of the century, "traditional" scenes and progressed through to cubist representations. Seeing his early experiments in showing different perspectives in the same picture, through to a full-on cubist representation was a revelation. I suddenly "got" what they were trying to do.

It would be great if more art galleries took this approach. - I'd certainly learn a lot.

The evolution of thought made concrete.

that did the same thing. I saw it at the Louvre (Fr. for slatted window). You cannot understand Picasso (let alone appreciate him) without seeing the entire oeuvre (Fr. for egg).

Bloody chimpanzees coming over here taking our exhibition spaces.
Hairy little f%&*!#s.

What are your thoughts on Mr Rothko's work?

in my bank vault until I could find a buyer. Nice at this size, too - I wonder why abstract miniatures never caught on?

the Tate Modern a few years ago, which included all the Seagram Murals. I found the whole thing quite captivating and meditative. The problem is, when someone says "They're just blocks of colour - my six-year-old could do better!", I have absolutely no rejoinder. It's true. They are just blocks of colour. But I still like them an awful lot. Surely I'm not the only Rothko fan in the Afterword community?

love the room in Tate Modern

The idea people have that a child could do that is just ignorance, a failure to see really. There is hours of thought and decision making from a brilliant mind behind those layers of pigment and marks that evoke such light and space. You only have to try doing it yourself to find out how hard it is. A particularly sensitive sensibility lies behind these paintings and as with any complex sophisiticated work of art a certain educated effort is required by the viewer to fully appreciate them. This is also true of naturalistic art which is just as much about the beauty of the surface marks and juxtapositions of colour as anything abstract. Dwelling on how much the object looks like the real thing misses the point.

I'm not aiming this comment at you btw, it's just a general comment on dismissal of abstraction.

Could also have come up with the melody and lyrics for "She Loves You".

No child did though. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.

...observes, it would be impossible for an amateur, let alone a child, to imitate a Rothko. The technique is extraordinarily complex, including stretching and applying layer upon layer of different paints and colours and scraping back. There's a description of this for Black on Maroon here: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/rothko-black-on-maroon-t01031/text-t... Attempting to see 'something' - a representation of a subject in the visible world, for example - misses the point; it's art about art.

There is a view, one to which I'd subscribe, that at least some of the Abstract Expressionists weren't particularly accomplished figurative painters and thus adapted their limited skills to non-objective pictures. Looking at Rothko and Pollock's efforts for the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project in the '30s it's hard not to see that they were struggling. That doesn't apply to all abstract painters though; Mondrian, whose work developed from art nouveau through landscapes to the extreme abstraction of the late paintings, was perfectly capable of drawing and painting 'realistically', while the same applies to Malevich and Kandinsky

Drawing is THE key skill for visual artists. It teaches one how to "see" correctly. All visual artistic expression flows much more readily from an ability to draw accurately.
I still draw from life virtually every day, just as a great many musicians will set aside so much time on a daily basis to practise. It keeps the creative muscles limber and one's skills up to scratch. Use it or lose it.

I think, well, yes, probably they could - art is not limited to a few professionals. Admittedly there might be less practice, experience, knowledge behind the work - which are other qualities to admire in a piece of art, but, in my opinion, we are all artists, and there is beauty in everyone's paintings, doodles, etc. When I feel the urge, and have had a few drinks, I like to get people to draw - anything - they might produce something awkward, halting, but it is greatly liberating. if I found the right tool online, I might try to start a thread on this.

Finding the right tool online.

(or indeed in the mirror), I might stumble across a right tool..

Coincidentally, I've been listening to Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel, following the recent BBC4 documentary on 20th Century classical music.

One of the local galleries around here, the Corcoran, has a Rothko room.

It's quite wonderful to just go in and sit there.

I'm also a fan of Barnett Newman. I'm also the least artistic person you will ever meet, so make of this what you will

Rothko leaves me cold, however.


and included the disappointed skier.

Wassily Kandinsky - Composition vii

Piet Mondrian Tableau I, 1921

Did he do a commission for the Conservative Party?
Sorry - is this the picture?


He's got a touch of the Kandinskys about him (that's why he walks like that etc.). I mean the later more geometric hard-edged ones rather than this example. I would say so and it is a good thing btw.

Or rather that this Kandinsky fellow has a touch of the Pencilsqueezers about him. Lucky chap.

first opened in Middlesbrough there was a rather ace exhibition of Bauhaus stuff, together with some really great Kandinsky sketches. I'd never really liked his stuff until I some of it it in the flesh. Truly lovely things of beauty.

And I'm a big Mondrian fan. I have to admit to liking a bit of expressionism de temps en temps.

who sees a Native American looking bewildered at the stuff falling down from the sky, on the top right side of the painting in the OP ? Wearing a very large feather in his hair.
So not that abstract...

Not familiar with it.

I thought if I posted one with a twisted vestige of a crow somewhere in it, everyone would know who it was straight away. Good spot.

words than with paint. His lyrics - peotry if you will chiz chiz - are full of startling colour and off-kilter metaphor. His paintings don't quite do it for me (which must have been a major disappointment for him, as the Art World accepted him).

roughly fifty pieces of my work instead. I'll throw in a discount for bulk buying. Can't say fairer than that.

Either that, or kill off my mother. That would help.

That painting is not abstract. It is a huge green-legged pigeon on a scooter, chasing an old lady. Surely that's obvious isn't it?

Pan-dimensional representation of the Wicked Witch of the West being mourned by Sitting Bull.

that Will-i-am fellow gets everywhere these days.

That so many people on this site who love music can dismiss all abstract art, when muisc is perhaps the most abstract artform of all. Song lyrics provide literal meaning of course, but other than that music is the organising of sounds into some sort of order and
conjunction , just as painting is the ordering of colours and shapes. Both can affect us emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and in a thousand different ways - without it being entirely clear how or why. The Rothkos cited above are a classic case of this, Kandinksy too.

Some of my favourite art is by artists who take some sort of representation but then work it so far that it becomes abstract - Picasso, for example, or the great late paintings of Turner which may just about be seascapes or paintings of the sun but equally are just massive swirling expressions of colour and light which are genuinely thrilling.


and I still can't see the "so many people" to whom you refer.

'some' or 'a minority' would have been more accurate. But I think my broad observation stands which is that many people can accept abstraction in music but still judge art on the basis of its accuracy at representation. Fully agree that isn't the prevailing view on this thread.

And there is a converse which is that actually incredibly avant garde and experimental visual art can sometimes pack em into the galleries - but try doing that with, say, film, or music and its a very different story.

it was a joke...or an attempt at one...perhaps too abstract ..that was another attempt

I rather like abstract art and like all of the examples posted on this thread.

Cries, I tell you.

'The Painted Word' - excellent read for a non-lover of abstract art.

Duly ordered. Ta.

Not strictly abstract in that often the subject is recognisable.

He produced tapestries. Huge wall-filling pieces which are meant to be seen full size, so tiddly uploads like the below detract somewhat from the intended impact. If you can, pay a visit to the museum dedicated to him and his work in Angers, France.

 photo a002164616-001.jpg

Certain pieces have a flavour of Pencilsqueezer about them. Google him.

.. but our own Pencilsqueezer is fantastic. I asked for something in memory of my late father. I was thrilled with the picture.

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