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My next new workshop (abstraction!) will be debuted at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee in August, and I'm deep into research on abstract design. I'm fascinated by the abstract art movement that began at the beginning of the 20th century and seems to have become the focus of much contemporary art. Of course most traditional quilts were abstract in nature - but more in the decorative sense of an abstract pattern rather than in any attempt by the maker to convey something that was not a direct representation.
Nowadays you find few artists who want to make a direct representation of a scene. It's always said that this change in art was a result of the development of photography but it was probably a lot more than that.
Some critics suggest that abstract art came about as a way to legitimize design – to raise it to the level of art beyond the mere decorative. Kandinsky was a forerunner struggling with the question: what should replace the object? He wanted his works to be pictures of emotional or spiritual states, not just a design or a doodle but a deeply felt and significant work of art. The artists at the beg of the C20 wanted to paint spiritual truths, not just representations.
Malevich wrote: “the artist can be a creator only when the forms of his pictures have nothing in common with nature”.
The term abstract in relationship to art really has two different meanings: one is where the intention of the artist is not to portray any aspect of reality at all, and the other is where the artist has taken some aspect of reality and intentionally changed it in some way.
Of course some people say that all art is abstract for it is not actually boats and rivers and mountains etc but rather pieces of cloth stitched together, or flakes of paint adhering to a background. Whistler commented that the forms he used in his paintings were not dictated by the appearance of things in the world, but rather were the forms best suited to the arrangement of his composition.
And these ideas are just the beginning! I actually decided to focus on female abstract artists - there are many wonderful ones and nearly every book you see on Abstract Art doesn't even mention them..so I'm really enjoying researching and building a huge Power Point presentation about this. It will be the basis for the August class in Arrowmont - which is full, by the way. But also for a spring class at Alegre Retreat (I'm replacing poor Libby Lehman who last month had a major stroke. She's recovering but it will be a long, slow journey).
Meanwhile my next available class is in the Falmouth area of Cape Cod. There are places available and we'll be dyeing as well as designing! It's a great venue, lots of space with an excellent lunch provided right there. For more information: contact Linda Gallagher (508-477-0057, 800-537-5191 ).
So - if you have been- thanks for reading!! Happy to answer any questions if you comment...or respond to any comments!! Elizabeth