Why Abstract Art Doesn't Exist or Isn't Worthy of Existance

I was a little irritated at abstract art a while ago, so I wrote this article.

Why Abstract Art Doesn’t Exist or Isn’t Worthy of Existance
By Clean3d

 The irony of our time. The "progression" of society, and the "abstraction" of art - man's portrayal of the world. We consider ourselves great for the ability to put fewer and fewer ideas into our art. The phrase "abstract art", however, is somewhat misleading. Why, you ask? Because the purpose of abstract art is (in it's pure form) the simple portrayal of one thought, one idea. This is utterly impossible to accomplish with a physical representation. To put it simply, you can't draw a single thought without the introduction of superfluous ideas.

 When you draw a line, what is that, exactly? This squiggle on the paper could portray any number of single and simple thoughts: A man standing, a tall building, etc. However, the very method by which this is portrayed is flawed for it's intended purpose. The line is a color that is contrasting with another color. Black on white. This is usually an ignored element, but a crucial part of your picture, none the less. If you created a white line on black, how would it be interpreted? Perhaps it would appear more menacing, evil, on disturbing than it's black-on-white counterpart. One could say that this matter is trivial, that a person can lower their minds to ignore such a thing; but art, when analyzed for what it IS, cannot tolerate the ignorance of any element.

 There will be people who disagree with me on this and say that there is such a thing as abstract art (and for the convenience of language, we should probably suppose that the phrase "abstract art" refers to the decimation of ideas, and not a single idea). So, let us suppose they are correct. In this case, abstract art is useless and absurd. It serves less purpose than any other genre of art. It is a simplification of a complex world so that we can have the convenience of thinking less. Great art is that which makes man think. By a simple bit of logic, then, abstract will never become classic art. To be sure, one can compare the various pieces of abstract art and say "this one is better", but when compared to any other genre, they find themselves lacking in almost every area. This is expected, however, because that is their point.

If possible, I’d like to know what you think about it or this subject in general.


[edit]Formatted now :expressionless: [/edit]

uh, not formated hard to read not worth reading Behold !
The home of abstract http://www.depthcore.com/v5/

Oops, sorry about that. 'Tis formatted now (more or less).

Block01cube will be very disappointed.

Still, I mostly agree with you and we’ve had threads about this in off-topic. I think the trouble with abstract art is that there are people who seem to cheat by using ambiguity in that genre so they can get away with being lazy.

I think there is a difference between being concise and being ambiguous. Being concise is trying to convey as much information as possible while using the least amount of expression. Being ambiguous can convey a lot of information with little expression but it is directionless and so the viewer is left to justify the piece of work.

I think the fine line between being ambiguous and being concise needs to be better defined to give the artform back some credibility. I think there are some artists who already help the genre as youngbatcat pointed out but as always, there are too many cheats and lazy people in the world and IMO defining harder boundaries is the only way to resolve the problem. But now people will go on asking who defines the boundaries and anything should be considered art etc. Damn liberalists - if I had my way they’d be locked up ;).

There have been a few modern artists who have been innovative and really pushed the limits, Escher, Picasso and Dali for example, but what the hell is with all the utter shyte that keeps winning the big art prizes? A sheep sliced in half? A tent with the names of everyone the “artist” screwed sewn to the walls? What the hell IS this nonsense?

Not really that related to the topic of the thread, I know, but when I read the words “Abstract art” that’s the image that popped into my mind and I just had to vent, sorry.

I like Pollock.

if you do not understand abstract art than you dont understand art at all.

abstract is as powerfull as realism. it is not easier nor less complex.
they are both the same. to paint a face perfectly realistic requires an intesive study of what you want to paint. to create a composition with lines showing the abstract meaning love or flight requires you to master you skills to show that only with pure lines. to be honest that is not a lazy job, but rather more complex and more difficult that showing that with a realistic painting.

being able to paint is not art, it is a skill. to express something with the strokes you put down is what we consider the fine art. everything else is pure craftmanship and to often does the culture we life in to quickly call somebody who can draw a face an artist.

picasso, dali, pollock, mondiran, mark rothko, braque, and many others did master pieces with abstract art. the reason why picasso or pollocks work are in museum is not because they were lazy to render something photrealistic. thats not evenb what their work is about. their work is about the process, the analytical approach, the twist of the mind, that they did that during the that specific time. picasso broke with the traditional art because it was considered as being stiff and old. with nine he painted like some masters dont do in their high age.

abstract art is not a representatitive art. and not every painting which shows a photorealistic face is also art.

sit down and do this:
make a composition only with lines:
show the abstract meaning of love, flight, compression, attraction.
after the first few lines you will see how hard that is to do and how hard it is to find a solution for that. my students byte their teeth out with that assignments but it makes them to understand what the skill of abstraction is and what not abstract art is.

to do good abstract art you need to be able to reduce and abstract objects and their meanings. what you see on many website like the one mentioned here is not absrtact fine art. it is a massproduced weak example of what abract art is.

http://www.depthcore.com/v5/image.php?image=2477 this is what i mean. SIGRAPH for example suffers as the complet digital art section from geek orientated work. the conceptual component is missing.

like with phantasy art or grafity to often the work looks all the same.

while however for graphic design it can be very useful like his work:

One thing wrong in your theroy is that you say that,“Abstract art is man’s perseption of the world.” Why does it have to be of the world?

Some clarification…

Many people seem to confuse the term ‘abstract’ art with ‘non-representationl’ art yet they are not the same thing. All representaional art is abstract, and all abstract art is representational. The question is one of degree; Picasso for instance, was very capable at rendering figures in a naturalistic mode, yet chose not to as he developed as an artist. Even so, his ‘naturalistic’ mode of drawing was an abstraction in the same way that his cubist peices were. The bottom line is that any time you try to say one thing ‘represents’ another thing, you are actually engaging in an abstraction (See: Magrite’s painting, ‘The Betrayal of Images’).


Now some might say that abstractions that more closley approximate reality are more ‘worthy’ than those that do not, and they might even give the work of ‘the great masters’ as examples. Unfortunatley they would be wrong. Take for instance, Caravagio’s ‘The Calling of Saint Matthew’.


While the peice very skillfully rendered, it does not appear as real life does, despite people’s tendency to ignorantly label paintings like it as being ‘realistic’. The fact is, that if the scene were rendered in such a way that better approximated the natural world it would be robbed of its dramatic impact and therefore be a much less worthy work of art.

There is also the question of what it means to ‘represent’ reality. Some might say that if it is ‘photorealistic’ then it is a ‘faithful’ representation of reality. This however is hardly satisfactory, since photography has such a low dynamic range compared to the naked eye. This might lead someone to say that a ‘true’ representation of an object would render something as it would seem to the naked eye. Even if this were possible, it is still problematic since the human eye is an instrument with a relativley narrow scope in that it is only sensitive to a small subset of the light spectrum. So those who feel the need for abstractions to mimic reality as closely as possible must first answer the (rather difficult) question of what that actually means…


I did graphic design and we learned a lot about abstraction. A lot of people think it’s some basic shapes and some random drawing, but basicly Abstracts can be everything, it’s just how you explain the abstraction from your artwork or something.

Even a factory machine can be abstract or a car or whatever. The foolish thing that most artschools do is trying to learn you to apply abstraction the way they think it is. When you are subscribing for such a school, in most cases they won’t let you in because they say: ‘We feel that your work aint abstract enought’ But when it comes to explain it to the subscriber what exactly was missing, well in most cases they can’t explain you and say towards you: ‘read the small letters on your subscribe paper, it says, we can’t comment on why or what causes to let you not join this school’ so thats how they solve it.

Basicly this is what happened to me, but it I don’t care.

And that is exactly what abstract art tries to do.

Just as little drawing of events turned into the alphabeth, who knows to what valueble human asset conceptual art will turn. At some point we might get the right tools to discribe reality.

What are you saying here? They Feel something and they can’t Express it in Words… Sounds like a perfect artschool to me. The fact that you don’t understand that makes me think they made the right decision, sorry JD.

Don’t sob. Most successfull artists did not get to artschool.

“Why Abstract Art Doesn’t Exist or Isn’t Worthy of Existance”

What a nonsense! Whether it’s any worthy of existance is something anyone should decide for themselves though… Now, Clean3D might have gotten a little irritated with abstract art, I get irritated with such ignorant statements (no hard feelings though). I totally agree with cekuhnen.

Robertt will be very unhappy with this…


Uhm, Mark Rothko? (abstract painter, http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=rothko&sa=N&tab=wi ) I mean, they’re better in person, but that’s still art… and it’s abstract.


Why? Because you say something stupid? are you drunk again?

I don’t recall any of his work being fully abstract.


Btw. this thread doesn’t belong in News & Chat [insert annoying smiley here]


art schools are picky, and each school has their own personal philosophy and interest. if the faculty just doesnt like your work, you just will not get in. it is a stupid system sometimes, but i teach right now in the USA at a university. In my 2 dimensional class, i have only freshman and to be honest in case i would have the power i would kick 12 ot of 16 out of the art school because they do not belong to there. no artistic ability, no interest in learning, no understanding that art requires work.

i know few fellows who tired it two three times to get into a design school in germany and sometimes their work was not what they wanted to see for that academic level. but few got into it after they retried it.

I think there’s been some misinterpretation of what I was trying to say (probably my fault).

Yes, there are some very talented people over there. Can they portray a single thought in their work without the introduction of superfluous elements? Probably not. But hey, I could be wrong.

“The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. - Elbert Hubbard”

Now there’s a loaded statement. I’m also afraid I don’t quite agree. By that statement there was no abstract art created before the exploration of abstract art. Of course, if you’re saying what Zarf was saying (“The bottom line is that any time you try to say one thing ‘represents’ another thing, you are actually engaging in an abstraction”), then everyone understands abstract art.

henrymop: I was referring to the world as in the universe, everything, anything. I’m certainly not going to say that a person has to limit themselves to something that’s on earth. :o

Sago: I had thought that since the news and chat was devoted to “anything related to Computer Graphics or elYsiun”, it would fit here. I guess I was wrong…

tumtidum: Ok, so it wasn’t correct to say it isn’t “Worthy of Existance”. Sorry, my mistake. Let me ask you this, though, is it honestly worth your time to stare for hours at a piece of work someone put one thought into?

That’s basically the point I’m trying to make here, that (from my understanding) abstract art (in it’s purest form) is the portrayal of one thought, and that this is almost impossible to accomplish, not to mention it’s not worth your time.

I have nothing against the style of abstract, cubism, etc., but I think that if it’s going to be considered good “art” (whatever that is), the artist ought to put a little more thought and meaning into it than just one thought.

If I’m wrong, please correct me.

At times like this I’m happy with my utterly naive approach to art…as long as it is pleasant to look at it, it is worth its existance.
I know that this is a dangerous approach but I’m not going to defend it. If you look at the aforementioned depthcore which has some wonderful members who do wonderful “art” (I’m not saying that has to be abstract, though)- well, at least in my eyes. I can’t say that their works always have a thought behind them but the digital stuff that they produce is nice to look at, even without a message or even a single thought behind it.

I know that this reduces art to simply drawing and to the simple use of different techniques for a nice outcome. Yet, I often find it very easy to go with this approach…

Well, this was more generally speaking, when it comes down to abstract art I’m more on cekuhnen’s site. He got some good points and I definitely think that good abstract art is simply hard to do. I myself tried to do it when I started with Digital Art, as it is called, but I realized that this is not my way to go. I simply don’t have the ability to think abstract enough (even though I study mathematics :wink: ).
Therefore it surely worthy its existance :wink:

Please, get yourself some form of culture.