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!