“Why Abstract Art?” Part II: Abstract Process

The long and expressive strokes of the “action-painter,” as such type of expressive painting is called, is not just the result of a “wild, fast, and frenzied slop-and-drip manner. On the contrary, most of these artists, slowly and meditatively, [consider] the implications of each possible move… accepting or rejecting it” (Mackie 77). In creating their pieces, the artists have a “dialogue” with their pieces, in which they must respond to every stroke, every color, every shape, that lands upon the canvas. In evaluating these developments, they must be critical in considering how each move is achieving the purpose they wish to convey or the image they aim to create.

Many elements of design and consideration are incorporated into the work of an abstract artist, in the same way that they are applied to any other style of art composition.  Artwork is created by the very fine interaction of conceptualization with medium.

The symbolic content and use of color is significant to a piece. Often certain colors can evoke certain emotions or psychological connotations. Color interaction is essential for the artist to consider, because the combination of certain colors, either conflicting or complementing, can make or break the purpose of a piece. Often the combinations of colors and the way they interact can be the sole subject of an abstract painting, and it is the aesthetic quality of this that is celebrated.

Balance and composition determine what role space is used in the painting or the sculpture. Large amounts of empty space act very differently from a canvas containing very little amounts of empty space. The interacting of shapes and lines is also important to the abstract piece, in that the lines define the shapes, and the variety in the lines can also convey different senses of imagery and expression. Very dark and thick lines thrown across the canvas feel very different than the light and intricate thin lines dancing across. Texture, repetition, variation and rhythm are also essential ingredients in the recipe for the construction of a work of art.





Works Cited

  • Baxter, Gary. Personal Interview. 3 December 2002.
  • Frascina, Francis, ed. Pollock and After: The Critical Debate. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
  • Griefen, John Adams. “Art, Intuition and ‘Understanding.’” Art Students League. 02 December 2002. <http://newcrit.art.wmich.edu/plain/jgword.html&gt;.
  • Mackie, Alwynne. Art/Talk: Theory and Practice in Abstract Expressionism. New York: Columbia UP, 1989.
  • Rhett, John. Personal Interview. 22 November 2002.
  • Taylor, Roger L. Art, An Enemy of the People. Sussex: Harvester P., 1978.
  • Vallier, Dora. Abstract Art. New York: Orion Press, 1970.

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