In a most literal term abstraction is an idea that is unrealistic, visionary, and impractical. We know it in the form of mathematics and more readily engage it in art. Abstract art is often either liked or disliked, for there seems to be very little middle ground. Rarely does a viewer walk past an abstract painting without giving it some sort of critique; sometimes positive and sometimes not.
How challenging it must have been or continues to be for those artists who claim they have created an “abstract painting” for actually, the mind does not wish to permit such an event to exist. For no matter how hard one tries, the mind wishes to make order out of what it sees. When we come upon an abstract painting hanging on the museum wall we seem always to attempt to make a comparison of the content to something else that makes “sense”. For no matter how hard we try, there is something or other that the mind equates it to… “it looks like a sunset,” “it looks like a man”… Those wiggly lines, unbalanced figures, and simple canvases are no challenge for our mind rearranges them, looking in its files under similarities until it comes upon one that conjures up its “concrete mate”.
And so we must wonder if there really is anything that is purely abstract … for our minds will not rest until it finds some structure and balance to this thing we call abstraction…
Today’s post brings us the esteemed thinker: Vasily Kandinsky (b. Moscow 1866–1944) painter, printmaker, stage designer, artist and theorist. His name in the art world brought to the 20th century a transition of representational art into abstract expressionism. Kandinsky attracted anything intellectual, restless, striving, which was in the world of art of that time. In 1901 he founded Phalanx, an art group, in Munich and started a school, in which he taught himself.
In 1913, Kandinsky coined the expression “nonobjective painting” to refer to a painting that depicted no recognizable objects. Considered one of the most influential artists Kandinsky is often credited with creating the first purely non-objective painting.
I now bring to you to you a most famous work, Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 4 (1914), one of four in a series of canvasses commissioned by Edwin R. Campbell, founder of Chevrolet Motor Company. Take some time to ponder this extraordinary work, and I wonder where your mind sends you!
Of all the distinctions belonging to men and women that seem to remain intact, even after we have grown old, is the distinct sound of our voice. Hearing from a long ago friend after years of drifting apart, a voice continues to remain true. It has the ability to stir up memories, some happy some not; but regardless of the recollections, the voice returns us to a lost place, a time, an emotion, or just a smile.
So even when a face and body has changed, it is often the sounds we hear that allows us to close our eyes and recall a misplaced memory.
Today’s blog introduces to us the esteemed thinker: Thomas A.Edison; the renowned American inventor who brought the sound of “voice” into the home. The phonograph may not be today seen as a modern miracle, however go back to the 1870s and such a devise was indeed a universal marvel. The first patent that was ever granted on a device for permanently recording the human voice and other sounds, and for reproducing the same audibly at any future time, was United States Patent issued to Edison on February 19, 1878, the application having been filed December 24, 1877. “Mary had a little lamb” were the first words that Edison recorded on the phonograph and he was amazed when he heard the machine play them back to him. ““I was never so taken aback in my life,” he recounted. “I was always afraid of things that worked the first time.”
Edison (1847-1931 b. Milan, Ohio) held more than 1,000 patents for his inventions such as the light bulb and motion picture camera. However, it is the phonograph that we herald in today’s blog, for it saves “the voice” for us even after the speaker is long gone.
First image: Man, two women and two children listening to phonograph–Girl is holding doll and another doll is under Christmas tree with a portrait of Edison: 1897
There is little doubt that 21st century technology has offered most of us advantages over those of the past. We are able to transport ourselves with little effort, feed ourselves with little strife, and communicate with the same degree of ease. Simple chores, such as laundering our clothes and cleaning our homes are no longer grueling; all easily accomplished using modern day conveniences.
However, hard as we try, when it comes to producing exquisite images… Mother Nature still out does even the most up to date cameras. And though we have come a long way from the first image makers, earth’s natural splendor from the beginning of time is still superlative. Her winter vistas produce the most daunting of black and whites while springtime, autumn, and summer test the boundaries of original colors beyond any means we can imagine.
Alas, with her infinite array of vistas and spectacles, we are only privy to her delights for a wink of time. Like a lovely dream we try to remember, so are her dawns, her sunsets, her sun showers so very elegant. All she asks of us is to indulge in these fleeting moments and then… sigh; for no modern trick nor gimmick can hope to offer such a grand performance as hers.
Today’s blog returns the esteemed thinker: Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946 b. Hoboken, New Jersey.), the innovative photographer and art promoter who received his formal education in engineering in Germany. Upon his return to the New York City in 1890, he set his sights on establishing photography as a “legitimate” form of art. In his early career he began to promote photograph as ‘art’, comparing his use of the camera as a tool to an artist and his/her paintbrush. Stieglitz’s artistic and creative talents harnessed the use of natural elements, such a weather, to create effects he wished to achieve and the camera’s focusing abilities to soften the frames.
In 1905, he founded the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York, with Edward Steichen, which later became known simply as ‘291’. Here he succeeded to elevate photography to the status of sculpture and painting.
In 1917, he met the much younger American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, who became his lover and finally his wife in 1924. Over a period of 20 years, he had taken over 300 individual pictures of her, demonstrating his unique and undeniable artistic ability to capture many facets of a single subject.
Let us know take time out from your hectic day to ruminate a most inventive work of art; a platinum print by the renown Alfred Stieglitz titled “Out of the Window” (1925). It is certainly one even Mother Nature would sit up and take notice of…after all…she did have much to do with its creation!