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A semi brief history of the visual

  1. As it happened, despite the controversy surrounding New York's Armory Show in 1913, the city was developing a keen interest in abstraction.
  2. Other highlights included portraits by Borovikovsky, Brullov, Kiprensky and Levitsky. The oldest which can be called truly Russian is the Ostromir Gospel of 1057, but for the time being there was no continued elaboration of a Russian style, for after 1054 the kingdom of Kiev had split up into various independent, and often hostile, principalities.
  3. The representations of the Last Supper, for instance, in the conventual church of St Michael in Kiev, finished in 1108, have the same over-elongated figures, with small faces, that are characteristic of Byzantine art at the same period. Two important sources for this type of abstract art are.

Some of these types are less abstract than others, but all are concerned with separating art from reality. Curvilinear Abstract Art This type of curvilinear abstraction is strongly associated with Celtic Art a semi brief history of the visual, which employed a range of abstract motifs including knots eight basic typesinterlace patterns, and spirals including the triskele, or the triskelion.

These motifs were not original to the Celts - many other early cultures had been utilizing these Celtic designs for centuries: However, it is fair to say that Celtic designers breathed new life into these patterns, making them much more intricate and sophisticated in the process.

These patterns later re-emerged as decorative elements in early illuminated manuscripts c. Later they returned during the 19th century Celtic Revival Movement, and the influential 20th century Art Nouveau movement: Curvilinear abstraction is also exemplified by the "infinite pattern", a widespread feature of Islamic Art.

Colour-Related or Light-Related Abstract Art This type is exemplified in works by Turner and Monet, that use colour or light in such a way as to detach the work of art from reality, as the object dissolves in a swirl of pigment.

Two instances of Turner's style of expressive abstraction have already been mentioned, to which we can add his Interior at Petworth 1837, Tate Collection.

The Czech painter Frank Kupka 1871-1957 produced some of the first highly coloured abstract paintings, which influenced Robert Delaunay 1885-1941 who also relied on colour in his Cubist-inspired style of Orphism.

Colour-related abstraction re-emerged in the late 1940s and 50s in the form of Colour Field Painting, developed by Mark Rothko 1903-70 and Barnett Newman 1905-70. In 1950s France, a parallel type of colour-related abstract painting sprang up, known as Lyrical Abstraction. Geometric Abstraction This type of intellectual abstract art emerged from about 1908 onwards. An early rudimentary form was Cubismspecifically analytical Cubism - which rejected linear perspective and the illusion of spatial depth in a painting, in order to focus on its 2-D aspects.

As you might expect, it is characterized by non-naturalistic imagery, typically geometrical shapes such as circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, and so forth. In a sense - by containing absolutely no reference to, or association with, the natural world - it is the purest form of abstraction.

One might say that concrete art is to abstraction, what veganism is to vegetarianism. Emotional or Intuitional Abstract Art This type of intuitional art embraces a mix of styles, whose common theme is a naturalistic tendency. This naturalism is visible in the type of shapes and colours employed. Unlike Geometric Abstraction, which is almost anti-nature, intuitional abstraction often evokes nature, but in less representational ways. Two important sources for this type of abstract art are: Organic Abstraction also called Biomorphic abstraction and Surrealism.

Arguably, the most celebrated painter specializing in this type of art was the Russian-born Mark Rothko - see: Mark Rothko's Paintings 1938-70. Other examples include canvases by Kandinsky like Composition No.

Gestural Abstract Art This is a form of abstract expressionism, where the process of making the painting becomes more important than usual. Paint may be applied in unusual ways, brushwork is often very loose, and rapid. Famous American exponents a semi brief history of the visual gestural painting include Jackson Pollock 1912-56the inventor of Action-Painting, and his wife Lee Krasner 1908-84 who inspired him with her own form of drip-painting; Willem de Kooning 1904-97famous for his Woman series of works; and Robert Motherwell 1912-56noted for his Elegy to the Spanish Republic series.

Minimalist Abstract Art This type of abstraction was a back-to-basics sort of avant-garde artstripped of all external references and associations. It is what you see - nothing else. It often takes a geometrical form, and is dominated by sculptors, although it also includes some great painters. For more information on minimalist art, see below "Postmodernist Abstraction". Origins and History Stone Age Abstract Paintings As far as we can tell, abstract art first began some 70,000 years ago with prehistoric engravings: This was followed by the abstract red-ochre dots and hand stencils discovered among the El Castillo Cave paintingsdated to 39,000 BCE, the Neanderthal engraving at Gorham's Cave, Gibraltarand the club-shaped claviform image among the Altamira Cave paintings c.

A semi brief history of the visual

Thereafter, abstract symbols became the predominant form of Paleolithic cave artoutnumbering figurative images by 2: From Academic Realism to Abstraction Up until the late 19th century, most painting and sculpture followed the traditional principles of Classical Realism, as taught in the great Academies of Europe. These principles laid down that art's first duty was to provide a recognizable scene or object. However much affected by the demands of style or medium, a work of art had to imitate or represent external reality.

However, during the last quarter of the 19th century, things began to change. Impressionist art demonstrated that the strict academic style of naturalistic painting was no longer the only authentic way of doing things.

  • However, it is fair to say that Celtic designers breathed new life into these patterns, making them much more intricate and sophisticated in the process;
  • With great care they prepared their panels of birch, pine or lime-wood, or more rarely, of cypress, scraping a flat surface in the centre, so that the protruding outside edges made a protective frame;
  • Russian landscape art was also energized by French Impressionism, notably its plein-air painting techniques.

Then, during the period 1900-1930, developments in other areas of modern art provided additional techniques involving colour, a rejection of 3-D perspective, and new shapeswhich would be used to further the quest for abstraction. Artists Start To Move Away From Reality The first of the major modern art movements to subvert the academic style of classical realism was Impressionism fl. The emergence of abstract art was also influenced by the Art Nouveau movement c. Impressionism, including the variants of Neo-Impressionist Pointillism and Post-Impressionism, had already drawn attention to the power of colour, but German Expressionism made it the cornerstone of painting.

One of its leaders, Wassily Kandinsky 1866-1944 published a book entitled 'On The Spirtual In Art' 1911which became the foundation text of abstract painting. Kandinsky was convinced by the emotional properties of shape, line and above all, colour in painting. He had an abnormal sensitivity to colour, which he could hear as well as see, a condition called synaesthesia. He believed a painting should not be analyzed intellectually but allowed to reach those parts of the brain that connect with music.

Even so, he warned that serious art must not be lead by the desire for abstraction into becoming mere decoration.

Most German Expressionists eg. Ernst Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Max Ernst, Alexei Jawlensky, Oskar Kokoschka, Franz Marc, August Macke and Max Beckmann were not abstract a semi brief history of the visual, but their vivid palette - along with Kandinsky's theoretical writings - alerted other more abstract-inclined artists to the power of colour as a means of achieving their goals.

Cubism Rejects Perspective and Pictorial Depth Cubism 1908-14 was a reaction against the decorative prettiness of Impressionism.

Picasso 1881-1973 and Georges Braque 1882-1963 developed this new style in stages: Their basic concept was to move away from the pretty but trivial art of Impressionism, towards a more intellectual form of art which explored new methods of portraying reality. In particular, they rejected the academic method of representing reality through the use of linear perspective depth to create the usual three-dimensional effect in a painting.

Instead, they kept everything on a two-dimensional flat plane, upon which they laid out different 'views' of the same object: This method of using a flat surface to depict 3-D reality, rocked art to its foundations. Although most Cubist works were still derived from objects or scenes in the real world, and thus cannot be considered to be wholly abstract, the movement's rejection of traditional perspective completely undermined natural-realism in art, and thus opened the door to pure abstraction.

A semi brief history of the visual

Cubist-inspired abstract sculptors include: Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957who was also influenced by African and Oriental art. Raymond Duchamp-Villon 1876-1918who used Cubist devices to represent movement, and Jacques Lipchitz 1891-1973. For an early 20th century abstract style of painting which attempted to blend Cubist composition with colour and music, see: A British pre-war art movement which was strongly influenced by the Cubist idiom, was Vorticism 1913-14founded by Percy Wyndham Lewis 1882-1957.

The Italian Futurism movement 1909-13founded by Marinetti 1876-1944 and exemplified by Gino Severini 1883-1966 and Giacomo Balla 1871-1958was also influenced by Cubism, and in turn inspired numerous painters with its emphasis on movement and technology. In sculpture, Futurism's greatest effect was on the development of Kinetic art, influencing abstract sculptors like Naum Gabo 1890-1977 and Alexander Calder 1898-1976 noted for his mobiles.

See, for example, works like: Suprematism and De Stijl Introduce New Geometric Shapes Traditional fine art painting and sculpture relies on shapes taken from the real world, of which there are limitless examples.

In contrast, abstract artists are obliged to rely on artificial, non-natural forms. Thus abstract art is typically concerned with the production of various geometric shapes. And the size and character of these shapes, their relationship to each other, as well as the colours used throughout the work, become the a semi brief history of the visual motifs of abstraction.

Russian Suprematism The Russian abstract art movement known as Suprematismwhich was named by its leader Kasimir Malevich 1878-1935 for its assertion of the supremacy of sensation in art, appeared in 1915.

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No doubt influenced by Kandinsky who had already begun to produce a range of concretist works, Malevich produced a series of outstanding avant-garde abstract paintings - rectangular blocks of plain colour floating on a white background - which were decades ahead of his time. He saw them as successors to the traditional icon-imagery of the Russian Orthodox Church in the flat Byzantine style of Antiquity.

Lyubov Popova 1889-1924along with Alexander Rodchenko 1891-1956 considered one of the co-founders of the Russian style of Constructivism a school concerned with a semi brief history of the visual, new materials, 3-D form, as well as science and social reform was another important member of the Suprematist movement. Another interesting Russian art movement which introduced new imagery was Rayonism or Luchism 1912-14founded by Mikhail Larionov 1881-1964 and Natalya Goncharova 1881-1962.

De Stijl De Stijl was the name of a Dutch design and aesthetics journal and avant-garde art movement, devoted to geometric abstraction non-objective artwhich was founded and led by Theo Van Doesburg 1883-1931.

Its leading figure was Piet Mondrian 1872-1944who is famous for his series of simple rectangular grids, using only black, white and primary colours - a style he called Neo-Plasticism Nieuwe Beelding. One of the most influential pioneers of concrete art during the period 1920-1944, he developed his precise geometric style as a counter-statement to the emotional chaos and uncertainty of the first half of the twentieth century.

Involved with the abstract group Cercle et Carre 1929-31as well as the Abstraction-Creation Group 1930-6he moved to New York in 1938, and was allegedly the first painter to work to gramaphone music. Van Doesburg was less dogmatic, introducing a more relaxed form of Neo-Plasticism, called Elementarism.

He was also responsible, in 1930, for coining the term "Concrete Art". Sadly he died in 1931, but his ideas were continued not only by students of the Bauhaus design school where he had lecturedbut also by the Abstraction-Creation group - led by the Belgian artist Georges Vantongerloo 1886-1965 and the French painters Jean Helion 1904-87 and Auguste Herbin 1882-1960.

The Swiss ex-Bauhaus architect, sculptor and designer Max Bill 1908-94 was another follower who helped to promote the genre in Switzerland, Italy, Argentina and Brazil. Surrealist and Organic Abstraction In parallel with the development of geometric-style concretism, during the 1920s and 1930s, exponents of Surrealism began to produce a range of fantasy-like, quasi-naturalistic images. Jean Arp was also an active sculptor who specialized in Organic Abstraction, as did the English sculptors Henry Moore 1898-1986 and Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975.

Modern British Sculpture 1930-70. A number of European abstract artists later sought sanctuary in America, where they encountered and influenced a new generation of indigenous abstract painters. As it happened, despite the controversy surrounding New York's Armory Show in 1913, the city was developing a keen interest in abstraction. For two collectors of abstract painting and sculpture of the first half of the 20th century, see: Solomon Guggenheim 1861-1949 and Peggy Guggenheim 1898-1979.

For avant-garde abstraction in Britain c. The next generation included painters such as Robert Motherwell. The name of the movement was coined by Robert Coates, art critic of the New Yorker.

Abstract Expressionist Painting remains a vague term - often confusingly applied to artists who are neither truly abstract, nor expressionist - which describes a form of abstract painting non-figurative, non-naturalistic in which colour takes precedence over shape; the latter being no longer geometric.

Early works in this style typically filled large scale canvases, whose size was designed to overwhelm spectators and draw them into another world. The preoccupation of abstract expressionists with visual effects, especially the impact of colour, was a reflection of their main goal - to involve and explore a semi brief history of the visual human emotions.

Thus an abstract expressionist painting is best felt intuitively rather than understood: For two interesting early works that illustrate the differing styles of these two artists, see: The fact that it was the first major art movement born in the USA, gave it added weight and significance: