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art and society

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How Abstract Painting Changed the Way we See Art
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The invention of photography made art, as a way to represent reality, lose all their significance. That is why the abstract painting came to life. With photography, all the tries to recreate perspective, and the most vivid representation possible of the environment, became useless. With a method that created life-like images with a click, all the intents to do it without a photography, fell short. That is why artists from the beginning of the 19th century felt the urge to create a new revolution on art, to shift the paradigm. In the same way, the technological advances created a new vision of life, and objects. Abstraction was born as a response to that. In a world full of images, abstraction rises as the simplification of all the forms, to escape from our everyday life, and lift the conventions imposed by academic art. In the same way, Abstraction, unlike the previous movement drew from theoretical arguments, arguments that reflected the painter’s reality instead the environment. We aim to assess that issue, and show the way abstraction changed the way we see image, and our perception of things. In a world surrounded by image, abstraction defies the concepts, and offers a new scenario of what life is.
The Blue Rider Movement
Wassily Kandinsky, along with a group of other artists formed a group called The Blue Rider in response to the rejection Kandinsky’s painting “Last Judgment” from an exhibition.

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Unlike many other artistic movements, The Blue Rider did not have a manifesto, but its creative, and artistic vision was centered on Kandinsky and Marc’s work. The name of the movement came from Kandinsky and Marc joint vision, and shared love for the color blue. The artists ascribed to the movement aimed to express spiritual thoughts through their work. “Our first and most important goal is to reflect artistic events directly connected with this change and the facts needed to shed light on these events, even in other fields of the spiritual life. Therefore, the reader will find works in our series that bear an inner relationship to one another in the aforementioned context, although they may appear unrelated on the surface.” Also, they intended to express the connection between music, and visual arts. Especially Kandinsky who started to paint his perceptions of sound, shying away from naturalism, and figuration. The painters of the Blue Rider movement expressed the symbolic associations of color, combining it with an intuitive approach to painting that resulted in more spontaneous and less rigid works. The group lasted three years, and was almost broken by the World War I, that claimed the life of Marc. After the end of the war, and many opinion differences the group disbanded. After The Blue Rider, Kandinsky went on, and developed his art on solitary.
Abstract Painting
At the beginning of the 20th century, the illusion created by perspective was beginning to be questioned. Science was re-designing, and re-defining space “Perhaps this is why artists began to experiments with the idea of dimensions and often illustrated ideas about multiple dimensions. Within this context, many perceptual, optical, and conceptual questions were posed and often related to the nature of physical space as defined in science.” In the same way, the artists of the 20th century redefined space by developing a form of abstraction that actualized space in the same way that renaissance did. However, in the two-dimensions of the frames, abstraction redefined how the lack of representation, also created paintings that pleased the eye, without resorting to naturalism. However, the goal of abstract painting is not to please the eye but to convey the painter’s thoughts on a determined subject. “Paintings present themselves to viewers to be solved through defining the meaning of what is being looked at.”
Abstract Painting and Image
In a strict sense, abstract art can be considered a suggestion of the natural, or real versus the concrete perception, and absolute depiction found in realism. That is why abstract art is perceived as hard to “read”. In that case, the perception of what is seen, instead of looking at a depicted image, can create a different perspective of what is in the painting. The person who sees the painting interprets what is presented in two forms: An optical form, and an intellectual form. When looked at, the painting can ask us questions, as an aesthetical game, on which our perceptions are subject to the painting, and the realities it depicts. On the other hand, when the picture is seen intellectually, it might become a psychological game on which the viewer intends to extract a meaning from what it sees as a way to appease the viewer’s curiosity. In that way, we can consider abstract paintings as a puzzle, or an illusion to be solved, and reveal its hidden meaning.
Technological Advancements and Painting
In the first decades of the 20th century, western society witnessed more technology advancements and progress than in the previous centuries. During that period, photography and cinematography drawn a new age concerning painting, and the way people saw the world. The main problem most of the modern artists was on how to reflect modernity using the trusted methods, and traditions that had been used in the past centuries. Photography was regarded as an enemy, to many painters, but others decided to turn and take a more radical approach, instead of expressing what was seen, artists expressed what was within them. For instance, Cubism was the first abstract movement of modern art. It served as a response to the changing nature of world, to revitalize art that was thought dead after the invention of photography. Cubism challenged the traditional forms of image representation, and offered new perspectives of the modernity. After the avant-garde movements, the general public has begun to accept abstract paint as a legitimate way to create art. In the same way, those artists who changed their stylistic conventions, and turned into abstraction, became heroes to the general public, who did not know that importance underneath the movement.“In popular culture, an interesting phenomenon begins to emerge–abstract expressionism was associated with elitism, being unusual and different from the middle class, and was a sign of prestige. For the middle class, it was an object of scandal which perversely guaranteed its success.”
As we can see, the concept of space used in abstract painting, is one that mirrors all the views and perspectives possible. Instead of focusing in the dimension of the canvas, abstraction defies it, and turns to a perceptual reality that is not necessarily related with classical perspective. Although we can see glimpses of the classical notions of perspective in certain figurative artists, who still use abstraction, and expression, the deconstructive approach to painting proposed by the first abstract artists, is still used. Abstract painting has changed the vision we have of art, and artists, because it explore the spiritual, and intellectuals conventions behind the technique, since it does not depict reality, it serves us to escape from reality, and reflect to issues that naturalism could have never done. When “reading” abstract paintings, there is a psychological understanding of the subject that reflects on the way artists created their painting, and how the work, despite not having an image to support the claim, have a voice of their own that reflects on the individuality of the painter, and the way the artist connects with the viewer.
Notes
Abstract Expressionism: Overview of Critical Reception, of Key Ideas, and Stylistic Sources.” Radford University. http://www.radford.edu/rbarris/art428/Abstract Expressionist narratives.pdf.
Bigeness-Lannigan, L. “How to Get Meaning from Abstract Painting: As Interpreted by the Artist, the Viewer, and the Writer.” (2005) https://studio245.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/linda_bigness_final_lit-review-publication-on-blog.pdf.
Kandinsky, Wassily. The Blaue Reiter Almanac. Documentary ed. Boston: MFA Publications, 2005.
Tyler, C., and A. Ione. “The Concept of Space in Twentieth Century Art.” Proceedings of the SPIE 4299 (2001): 565-77. https://www.ski.org/CWTyler_lab/CWTyler/Art Investigations/C20th_Space/C20thSpace.html.

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