Friday, July 14, 2017

Broadening one's horizons.....

The more I get into art quilting, the broader and broader my interest in art in general...
One school of painting that I never really "got", could never really grasp the idea or the principles behind the work is that of Abstract Expressionism.  Not that I don't like some of the work...I really love Joan Mitchell's and Elaine de Kooning's  paintings for example:

Elaine de Kooning: watercolor
I couldn't find any photos I had personally taken of Mitchell's work...but all you have to do is go to google images!  they're amazing.

I did take this one as you can see from the reflection!

One of my big puzzzles with AE is: how to know when it's "good".  And I think we often run into this...same thing with 20th and 21st century music...very difficult to judge how successful, how long lasting something will be  when people are really pushing the edges of an art form..In the early stages of a movement, there are no definitions, that's what is really so fascinating!  anything is possible...for a while...

When I wrote my online class on designing modern quilts, the first thing I did was look for a definition - actually an official definition came out a little after I'd written the class...but I was pretty close!

I had never seen a definition of AE before but apparently Arch Critic and Cataloguer Clement Greenberg did write one in 1962:

"If the label Abstract Expressionism means anything, it means
 loose, rapid handling, or the look of it;
 masses that blotted and fused instead of shapes that stayed distinct;
large and conspicuous rhythms,
broken color,
uneven saturations or densities of paint,
[obvious] brush, knife or finger marks".

I love that phrase "or the look of it" - a seeming casual but carefullly thought out arrangement! 
I must admit I often try to cultivate "the look of it " myself!! 

Once you have a definition, you can begin to grasp the movement as a whole and form an idea as to what the artist is trying to do. so I'll be headed back to all those AE folk for a long second look.
But also, reading this definition, I can see just how easily one could apply some of this to quilt design...AND I don't think there are very many people doing this.

anyone looking for a new direction to take?  Consider AE!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!  all comments Very Welcome....Elizabeth


Leigh said...

LOL, I guess it's good if you like the colors? :) For me anything that starts out "abstract..." is probably not something I'm going to 'get' (especially if its "Untitled"), so its all kindof the same for me. Perhaps I should get out more. :)

So if you really like abstracts, how can you not 'get' AE? Its all the same principles isn't it? Balance, color, line, etc.?

Anonymous said...

"or the look of it" leapt out at me too. I work very hard, arranging and rearranging, to get the look of "random." LOL

Also thought of hidden edges as I read about not having distinct boundaries.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Leigh! you're right, the more you know the more you see, and vice versa!! with anything at all even sport on telly!!
Agree, knitnkwilt, combining lost and found edges in a piece adds to mystery, adds to interest...crucial!

Mary Ritter said...

I think I have an AE in my unfinished pile, but it has quite bright colors. Maybe I'll pull it out and try finishing it. Do you have any quilted samples? I have been so eager to sign up for your Abstract II class, but life has kept me away. Good luck on the piano lessons and progress. I have played all my life, am not a classical pianist, but play well enough to really enjoy myself. That is the ultimate goal, I think. Keep up the great blog! Maybe the winter months will find me in your Abstract II class, which was just an idea in your head when I took the other classes.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Mary, You remind me of a Beyond the Fringe sermon: "is there an [AE] in your life? I know there is in mine!".
I must look through what I have done...I think there was one long ago called Vespers which would probably qualify...when I was working with disperse dyes(I don't know disliked the fumes and the synthetic fabric)...but you did get some great painterly effects and then you could layer the fabric.
Yes I wrote Abstract Art for Quiltmakers focussing on all the abstract women painters who were never valued as much as their male counterparts...and it's such a huge field that then I wrote More Abstract A for QM with the focus being the different schools of AA and their gradual development. All kinds of quilt designs ideas can spring from looking at the work of abstract painters - so much more that the realistic schools.

Then I got interested in the spare elegance of modern quilts, so wrote a course call Mod meets Improv!! I try to come up with one new one each year... the one I"ve begun work on next is called The Six Hour Quilt - and it's aimed at those who are short of time and it will be , I hope, quick and fun. I've got three willing victims, one of whom never quilted at all, one made one piece, and the other only 2 or 3 ...nobody ever designed a quilt...and I'm going to intersperse short video clips of them learning...well we'll see how it comes out! and after that, well I have another idea!!!

Mary Ritter said...

The part I like best is that you always have another idea! Me too! But, too many ideas, not enough time... Keep plugging along. I love reading about it.