Published on February 17, 2014
Abstract Art & Photography 1
Representational and Abstract art Caravaggio, Supper at Emmaus, 1601 Piet Mondrian, Composition in red yellow and blue, 1921 2
In the Caravaggio painting the composition consists of the arrangement of people and recogniseable objects. The painting clearly represents people sitting around a table – things that we could find in the „real‟ world. Works like this are called representational or figurative. The Mondrian painting also involves a composition process, but in this case it is a composition of shapes, lines and colours. The picture seems not to directly represent anything which we would find in the „real‟ world. 3
Film „stills‟ from the film La Jetee. Abstract or representational? 4
Pattern Do you want there to be a center of interest in your photograph or painting, or would you prefer the image itself to become a pattern? Jackson Pollock, Painting, 1948 5
Photogram by Lazolo Maholy-Nagy 6
Whilst some works are clearly representational and others clearly abstract, many photographs or artworks seem to be representational (figurative), and yet also have an abstract quality Photo by Paul Strand 7
Photo by Andreas Gursky This is a photograph of a motor race track in Bahrain. The pattern created by the track produces an abstract quality to the image – do you agree or disagree – discuss. 8
When you view a completely abstract image it is usually meaningless to ask “what is it of?” Many people today still believe that to qualify as „Art‟, an image or artwork must be representational – it must be ofsomething found in the physical world. In the second half of the 19th century some artists began to break free of this constraint, attempting to produce art which was less ofand more aboutthe subject. 9
JMW Turner, Rain, steam and speed, 1844 10
Claude Monet, Water Lillies, 1915-26 11
Photographers in the 1920‟s started experimenting with the camera‟s ability to „see‟ in new and exciting ways (using startling viewpoints, close-ups, radical framing and so on). They allowed the photography to revel in those aspects of the medium which made it different to other atistic media, rather than trying to make their photographs appear like other forms of art, such as painting. Extension work: „Medium Specificity‟. Photo by Steichen 12
Photographs by Edward Weston 13
Photo by John Baldessari Abstract or representatio nal or …. a bit of both? 14
Photo by Tomatsu Shomei How would you describe this image … Is it „of‟ anything? Is it representational or abstract? 15
Photographs by Wolfgang Tillmans 16
What are the essential differences between representational and abstract art/photography? What might abstract photographs be good for? 17
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