I was recently attending an art history class where we covered different artists or styles of art every week. Although I loved the education, almost invariably the paintings left me cold.
Sounds odd eh, but then one of the other lovely ladies on the course questioned me as to what kind of art I liked. On answering no to most of the artists or genres that she asked about, I started to question myself on what I actually did like!
You see the problem with realist art is that the artist generally knows where they’re going with it. If you’re painting a dog, once you’ve done the face, for example, you know you’ve got to do the legs, the tail etc. etc. It might not always be plain sailing but you know what you’ve got to do to complete the painting.
This often isn’t the case with abstract art. Just look at this Kandinsky painting:-
This painting (entitled Swinging no.29) comes from within. It’s about thoughts and feelings and emotions, it’s not a prescriptive way of doing things like painting a dog might be. It’s doing what you want to do, when you want to do it and according to the mood you’re in at the time.
I grant you that the artist would almost certainly have a plan and know where they’re going – but that plan is based on emotion and mood and not on what is perhaps the ‘normal’ way of doing things. All in all it’s harder, cleverer and more creative to paint an attractive picture in an abstract way than to paint your archetypal dog.
It doesn’t have to make sense to the viewer although that perhaps if we can make sense of it, we like it better. Not all minds can make sense of it though which is why some of us love abstract art and some of us will prefer the dog picture…. or no picture at all!
This Paul Klee picture is more understandable to most of us as it’s people, something we all know – although some still won’t like the style.
Why can’t it just be painted in a realist way, many would say. My mind says that realism is boring so I like this – horses for courses! I like this better:-
I don’t need to understand, I just like the impression it leaves on me. Would I put the realistic dog on my wall? No. This Kandinsky? Most certainly yes (although I’d prefer the original to a print!).
So I thank the art class for making me actually think about what I really like. Stuff 17th century art (my ‘A’-level subject, yawn yawn) – give me an abstract piece any time.
There are over 500 fabulous abstract and modern pictures on our Modern Art public domain DVD. Click on the link for more pictures and see if you agree with me!