Friday, February 22, 2019

Abstract art -- what does it all mean?

The Lakewood Arts Gallery's Expressions in Abstract show is about to be hung, after a jurying process on Saturday, February 23rd.  If you're like me, I not only wonder what the public sees in some abstract pieces, but also what a juror might look for in judging pieces for awards.  And what's the difference between abstract, non-representational and modern art?
      Abstract Expressionism is the only art form that originated in the United States.  In New York after World War I, Peggy Guggenheim started collecting abstracts which gave the artists credence after much rejection of their artwork.  Abstracts are now the most collected art form.  So what constitutes an abstract?  According to The Artist's Illustrated Encyclopedia, by Phil Metzger, an abstract is art containing little or no depiction of real objects or real scenes.  Abstract art relies on shapes, textures, color, tone and other qualities for its impact, rather than on a depiction of things. But it is not synonymous with non-objective or non-representational art.  So what is that?
     Non-representational or non-objective art is just what it sounds like.  It does not represent or depict an actual object or scene, whether it is a two-dimensional or three-dimensional creation.  Makes sense, right?  Well, there's even another term that can get mixed up with these, and that would be "modern art". 
     Modern art doesn't actually refer to a particular style or school, according to Artist's Illustrated.  It refers to art from the late 1800s to the present that contrasts with earlier art in its rejection of stiff academic rules and traditions. Many consider modern art to be abstract, but that's not necessarily the case. Many modern artists feel free to experiment not only with materials and techniques, but to comment on social, political and intellectual conditions.
   Without being able to jury a show based on adherence to theme or recognizable subjects, what does a juror look for in judging an abstract show?  They should be looking for the same design principles and elements that a show of representational art would require: good composition, value, movement of the viewer's eye throughout the picture, color harmony, etc.  And one thing I've learned about interpreting abstract art, is to consider how the piece of art makes you feel, rather than just deciding whether you find the depiction of the subject matter pleasing.
     So there you have it!  And if you'd like to test your knowledge of abstract art, come on in and see the Expressions in Abstract show on display at the Lakewood Arts Gallery February 24th through March 29, 2019. Join us for a fun-filled reception on Friday, March 1 from 5-9 pm.

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