Friday, March 17, 2017
Why do people love or hate abstract art?
I'm starting another Abstract Art class next Friday (description below) and I'm wondering if that is a good idea!!
I've been surprised recently by people responding to abstract art in a clearly quite visceral way in both online classes, and in presentations to groups of retired intelligentsia!!
Now, I myself certainly don't respond to ALL abstract art, but I would say there's nothing that gets under my skin so much that I would say I hate it!!
It's always fascinating when people's reactions to something are quite different...not just paintings of course, but textile art, music, plays, books and so on. How can you hate something that is not attacking you? (as you can see I'm excluding politics here - actually the big three forbidden subjects for dinner parties: money, religion, politics! - no, I'm not talking about them - plenty there to feel visceral, or as they say in the UK, "gutted" about).
What is a painting doing that you can't bear to look at it? How can somebody look at the work of well respected artists that have stood the test of time, and say "that's really awful, it makes me cold and angry" - it's almost as if they feel they have been conned by the artist.
And this is a common response - the old "my five year old could have done it" that even the most intelligent open minded people sometimes comment when I give them a presentation of abstract art!
No, your five year old couldn't!! well perhaps a little genius like Picasso or Mozart or Fanny Mendelssohn could produce an abstract work of art that would stand forever .....but these folk are pretty rare.
So, as is my wont, I cogitated about this very negative reaction many have towards abstract art and wondered if it's really because they don't understand it. We do like to understand our world - especially the intelligentsia!!! so...if you don't understand what all the fuss is about, AND that bothers you (I'm leaving myself a get out clause here because I don't understand many sports !!! 4 hours of watching people chase the same ball around a pitch, EVERY day, somehow doesn't do much for me!)...so if you feel really strongly about something...then the answer is to find out more about it!! It seems so simple to me...I'm a great believer in understand WHY...hence all the cogitating!!
I must admit that initially I wasn't that keen on abstract art either. (and there's a lot of poor abstract art out there in the same way that's there's poor representational art) (yes there are Thomas Kinkaid-type abstract artists too!!) , and I certainly couldn't figure out Scriabin's music when I first heard it....but I am intrigued. I respect the fact that very knowledgeable people find these advances in art and music and literature to be absolutely wonderful, challenging yes...but in the best possible way. So I legged it out onto the internet and the local museum and the library....and the more I looked, the more I became quite enthralled by these artists. AND, inspired to think about possible quilt designs!! oh yes! there's is so much we can snitch, folks!! Not that I've made a Scriabin quilt yet...but you never know.....
So...what d'you think? is abstract art, "modern" classic music etc all an elaborate con? or is there maybe something in it? Comment!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading. Elizabeth
an interesting quote from Robert Weirich - he's talking about music, but there are significant parallels with our discussion:
Introduction to my next (More) Abstract Art for Quiltmakers class with the academy.
"Over the next five lessons, we’re going to explore more aspects of abstract art. In my first Abstract art for Quiltmakers class we looked at the lives and work, ideas and processes, of female abstract artists, artists often overlooked. In this class, More Abstract Art for Quiltmakers, I’d like to focus on the best known and most influential abstract artists, regardless of whether they are male or female, though (in the way of things!) most of them will be male.
I’m going to give some definitions of abstract art – there are many (just the main ones), because there are several different kinds of abstraction. The idea of abstracting means different things to different people and artists have exploited and explored many different avenues. You probably won’t like them all! I don’t either…but it’s useful to have a broad idea of the field as a whole.
In the first lesson, we’ll look at the history of abstract art beginning in Europe – as a particular kind of painting, it’s relatively young, only a little over a hundred years.
Each subsequent week I’ll focus on a different area: Abstract art in New York City, the benefits and meaning of abstract work, the abstract art form we know as music, and the abstract art of the 21st century.
Each of the lessons will also include several exercises which you can follow in order to create your own abstract art designs that you can use to make art quilts. You will be able to post your design sketches, and I can help you evaluate them, and make them stronger.
Towards the end of the course, we’ll discuss the steps necessary in working from the sketch to create the quilt. I’ll be always available to help you make the designs and the quilts more interesting and more beautiful.
Each lesson I will suggest some homework! Research on a topic that is very relevant to the class and to you. In this way we’ll all learn a great deal from each other too.
At the end of each lesson, I’ll also give you the name of a book, or a url (website address) where you can go to find out more and really broaden your knowledge and experience of abstract art."