Abstract art abstraction


Terms with wide-ranging meaning, but always descriptive of artwork in which the realistic depiction of objects ranges from secondary to barely existent. Many scholars link Abstraction to that which is derivative or based on some element of reality. Although it could be argued that the dramatic landscapes of many of the Hudson River painters were abstracted to emphasize emotion rather than visual reality, Impressionism was the first major step into Abstraction and was a critical break with Realism, which shocked many viewers and stirred widespread critical commentary in Europe and America. Of the tension created among many Americans when they first encountered abstraction, Ruth Appledoorn Mead, founder of the Martha's Vineyard Art Association, said contemporary and realistic art belong together. "Learning to appreciate distortion is like learning to appreciate olives and clams." (Old Sculplin Gallery) Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism continued the march of Abstraction into the 20th Century. Terms related to abstraction include Non Objective and Non Representational, but those terms are usually associated with subject matter that is invented and totally distanced from recognizable physical images. The first purely abstract painting in the modern tradition is usually held to be a watercolor produced by Wassilj Kandinsky in about 1910. Sources: Robert Atkins, "Art Speak"; Alfred Barr, "Art and Theory, 1900-1990"; Alfred Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques"; Old Sculplin Gallery, Edgartown, Massachusetts