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  #1  
Old 07-23-2006, 08:39 AM
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Abstract Art vs Realism

It seems to me as if most art work has gone to abstract. I come from the watercolor world and it too is going abstract. Has it always been that way? I personally can't make my brain think that way. I mean as far as doing abstract myself. I tried it in WC and it really screwed with my head. Some of you do both. How can you flip back and forth.

I'm not saying I don't like abstract, I do very much. I can feel others work and appreciate it but I can't do it.

Blake...your personality and professionalism make your work look all the better!

I'd like to know what everyone thinks about this. Trivial maybe but interesting to me! Scout
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2006, 02:01 PM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Scout-

My mind works toward extreme realism but you know what, I have the most fun and feel the most free when I do abstract. So I think it's a good exercise on learning to let go and see what can happen with the clay when you let it just happen and then look at it and find the interesting textures. All of it is nothing contrived but just happened.

Then I can go back and do a refined realistic piece and hopefully it will be more raw and allow some of the tooling to show and give it life and spontaniety too. This is all something I'm currently trying to work on.

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  #3  
Old 07-23-2006, 08:42 PM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Scout,
Quote:
It seems to me as if most art work has gone to abstract. I come from the watercolor world and it too is going abstract. Has it always been that way?
It only seems as if all artwork has gone to abstraction. (Though it has leaned that direction heavily in the last century) Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. There are many, many artists still practicing non-abstracted work. One reason for this 'seeming' that way is there has been a switch in focus in our institutions of higher learning towards teaching non-objective as the primary means of expression, but objective/traditional subjects are very much a force in this country. If you google 'landscape artists', 'portraitists', or 'figurative artists' you'll see exactly what I mean.

Too, it is true that many galleries and museums have opted for one over the other during much of the latter half of the 20th century, but that isn't really the current paradigm any longer. In fact in recent years there has been a resurgence of traditional/contemporary/objective art in many galleries in NY that used to shun such work. Some of it is what is termed the 'new figurative art'..which seems to have a synthesis of modernism and traditionalism as its goal.

During one of my recent trips to the Chelsea area, galleries showed a fairly close ratio between objective and non-objective artists. The buzz at school is that there isn't a better time to be a figurative/traditional artist in New York....at least not in quite a while.

An interesting article about one aspect of this trend...on an international scale.... can be read at:
http://www.janesmann.com/Articles/aesthetics.html
Jan Esmann is one of a growing number of 'new figurative artists' in European countries, like Odd Nerdum, http://www.oddnerdrum.com/ , that seem to see figuration/objective art on a very large timeline and are harkening back to, for them, worthwhile techniques from the past. I wouldn't say they are my cup of tea exactly, but I understand where they are coming from and see the trends they represent. You can also look up Eric Fischl, Will Cotton, Robert Taplin, Judy Fox, and Peter Drake. These are all artists who are very objective and have had great success in the current fine art market in NY and elsewhere. There are many more, (This doesn't begin to take into account regional artists and geographically specific art trends like Southwestern art, etc...) but you get the idea...abstraction isn't the monster you think it is.

I prefer objective figuration myself, but enjoy a really well done piece of abstracted work immensely. (Sometimes I think that is harder to come across than good traditional subjects) I do at times sketch abstracted shapes and develop my compositions in an almost abstracted fashion(after all it is all design oriented or should be)...it is a very soothing way of working..streamlined and I think that were I to decide to, I might enjoy working in that manner.
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Old 07-24-2006, 03:30 AM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Driven to abstraction, me.
The thing about realism is: given a chance, it will drive you to abstraction anyway. Have a look at two pictures, a painting by Paul Nash and a landscape that inspired him. Both landscapes. Both abstractions. Also: one by his brother, John. Now, the tree stump in the middle: an abstract sculpture, surely, amidst the realism.
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  #5  
Old 07-24-2006, 03:30 AM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Scout
Thank you for your kind words.
Perhaps non-objective work requires further consideration on your part, there is nothing a wonderful as a good teacher and I think that there is value here.
I was originally taught abstract art, as that was the trend in North America at the time I was studying. I had to go to Europe to learn figurative sculpture and it was hard to find someone to teach me. I think that this non-objective way of working was very good training and would suggest that you look at Sculptorsam for just one example of first class abstract work on this site, (there are many others as well). The abstract helped me with composition, balance, line, form as well as negative space, weight and volume, movement, and colour to name a few of the essential elements in art, so it was a great base upon which to build. I was going against the trend when I started but only because I love the figure, not because I thought myself a trend setter or anything. Flipping back and forth as Jason and Happysculpting seems to be able to do, is just not possible for me, the last abstract piece I tried I failed badly at and I have not gone there since, but perhaps I too should return to face this challenge, if only as an exercise, both of us could be pleasantly surprised.
Cantab has an excellent point, often the composition of a work benefits from abstract planning and design.

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  #6  
Old 07-24-2006, 03:58 AM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

I wonder which is primary: realism or abstraction? Realism as we know it is relatively modern, isn’t it? Born in the Netherlands and Renaissance Italy? When I think of abstraction, I think of Picasso’s rediscovery of African sculpture, and of the incredible love of abstract patterning in tribal art (e.g. Hopi and Zuni indians in America). Tribal cultures appear to have found a use for highly exaggerated natural forms (in depicting the human figure/Gods/spirits) and something significant in abstract patterns. I suspect, as with Picasso, if our sources are abstract and non-realistic, our art will also be so. It may also relate to what we are setting out to do – if you want to create a SENSE of nature, as with Barbara Hepworth, without reference to a specific object in nature, then abstraction is the logical route to take.
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Old 07-24-2006, 04:19 AM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

For me, I go for realism. I do mainly figurative sculpture, sometimes animals, but both based on living realism. Sometimes I throw in something abstract or symbolic to supplement the main part of the sculpture.

As to why I go for this, there may be reasons if I sit down to analyse it. But this does not matter, does it? I mainly follow my heart in creating my sculptures. It has to be this way to enjoy my work. And so far my heart goes in the direction of realism.

I said 'so far' as I do not rule out one day my heart may move broader to include more abstract artworks. Have fun.
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  #8  
Old 08-18-2006, 07:52 PM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Let's break down the walls.

What is real or abstract?

When you go to draw or represent something real, you choose a subject that is beautiful. Something that transcends feeling and emotion. Realism art has value because it is beautiful, not just because it is realistic. A truly talented realism artist must not only be able to be accurate but must also understand what it is about their subject that is beautiful.

Take caricatures of politicians for example. The artists that draw caricatures are never what we would call "realistic", but when you see the drawing, you know exactly who it is. These artists can understand what defines a person's appearance. They know how you recognize someone, and they exaggerate those features.

In the same way, good realistic art comes from an artist that understands the beauty. Take cpr dummies for instance. I have seen some cpr dummies that have extremely realistic faces and torsos. But we wouldn't call them art.

With this in mind, the line between realism and abstract art seems to fade. Say, for example, you see a rock or a tree with a shape that seems powerful or graceful. If you go back to the studio and recreate that feeling you got from the object by utilizing its shape, but your product doesn't really look like the object, is that abstract or realism? You may not have represented the leaves of the tree or the cracks in the rock, but if your product can capture the feeling of the original through shape or proportion, what does it matter?

Art is not about technical difficulty, it's about inspiration. It's about capturing a feeling. The fact is that some things, like human hands and faces, and entire bodies, for that matter are very expressive in the eyes of humans, and they may take excruciating detail in order to put feeling into. But the focus here is not on the detail; It is the feeling created by the detail.

It is hard to tell why abstract shapes show feeling, but it is my belief that abstract forms convey emotion by reminding us of something. There was an abstract piece I recently saw that was very narrow at the base and flared outward at the top and had a slightly spiraled shape as it went up. The piece did not look like anything, but for me, it reminded me or a dancer and it captured the grace and smooth movement that you think of when you think of dancers.

Try not to get caught up in labels. Go for feeling, not accuracy.
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  #9  
Old 08-18-2006, 09:38 PM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

This is a realy sore point for me so I won't say to much. I would feel a lot better if an abstract artist started out doing realistic art first. I rember once going to the Pasedna art museum and there were all sorts of so called abstract paintings. One large painting was nothing but three large streight lines taking up the whole canvas and there were people looking at it for what seemed like hours. I just had to ask them what the heck are you looking at they had no answer. At least the artist knew how to use a ruler.
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Old 08-18-2006, 10:00 PM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

It is the order in the universe that makes the disorder interesting.
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  #11  
Old 08-18-2006, 10:42 PM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

It takes more of a creative mind to interpet abstract art as compared to realism. Anyone can paint, sculpt, build something lifelike and make the point of what the peice is suposed to be............yet it (I believe) takes a lot more talent and creatitivy to draw the viewer and make them figure out what the piece is ment to be............
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Old 08-18-2006, 11:00 PM
SPRINGFIELD SPRINGFIELD is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

It is the artist who should be creative and not the viewer trying to read into a piece of art something which isn't there.
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  #13  
Old 08-18-2006, 11:36 PM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

I don't want anywone to missunderstand me. I like a lot of abstract art and I have seen soom pices on this Sculpture Comunity that I realy like a lot. In fact all of my sculptures have been abstract thought that was not my intention.
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Old 08-19-2006, 02:57 AM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Quote:
I wonder which is primary: realism or abstraction?
An interesting question.
When we look back to the earliest cave paintings and stone carvings we see an abstraction of reality. The Minoan's, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, etc...all used some form of abstracted thought in their interpretations of themselves. Over the millenia mankind has artistically interpreted the world perceived with varying ratios of abstraction and realism. It may be safer to say that it isn't one or the other that is man's destiny. Instead we are both....abstract and realistic....just as we are good and bad, creative and destructive. Our attempts at excising one or the other from our makeup maybe paramount to removing a part of ourselves.



These ancient works are examples, I think, of man searching for a 'realistic' portrayal of himself and his life experience, but they bear the mark of a creative abstraction that comes from the soul and not the world around. It is a marriage of two parts that makes the whole.
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Old 08-19-2006, 04:56 AM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonGillespie
When we look back to the earliest cave paintings and stone carvings we see an abstraction of reality.
In other contexts 'an abstraction of reality' can mean something else. Perhaps what you mean is that these are artistic interpretations of human figures and animal figures. And they have been good enough, they served the purpose, as long as other people can understand what they are supposed to depict - man, woman, animal, etc.

It is of course the ancient Greeks who were the first people to go for realism in figurative sculptures.

Abstract art went on to include our artistic interpretations of other things we see, say rocks, trees, etc. Going further, it is broadened to include art with no connections with any real tangible things.
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Old 08-19-2006, 05:13 AM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Well, you guys really got into this. I have to agree that mixing the two is fascinating. I've been letting myself start out abstract and coaxing out what appears. It's like hearing some distant music and putting words to it. I have a hard time making a plan and sticking to it. It just has to evolve. Do you guys have a strict plan when you start a piece? I guess it's different with subtraction. Thanks for all your interest in this R vs A. Maybe the very word "verses" is what causes the action in our pieces. Scout
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Old 08-29-2006, 10:34 AM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by SPRINGFIELD
I would feel a lot better if an abstract artist started out doing realistic art first.
This is sometimes the case, as with Picasso. And I agree with you: People should start with realism. It is a discipline and it will go far in tightening a person's hand/eye coordination and sense of scale and proportion. (I see now G.Murdoch has already mentioned this.)

I wonder if the OP wouldn't have been better worded to say "Realism or 'non-representational'" art, instead of abstract? This is how I learned it. However, as I "mature," I'm not certain the distiction between non-representational and abstract is very significant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arcdawg
It takes more of a creative mind to interpet abstract art as compared to realism.
This is actually my wife's take on realism; she has no formal artistic training, FWIW.

I'm not sure if you've worded it quite correctly though . . . maybe I just don't like the wording because it comes across as "artist as genius," which is a concept I won't buy into.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scout
I have to agree that mixing the two is fascinating.
This is one reason I REALLY like Rodin's "Danaide."

Theoretically, I think someone could argue that even realism is abstract . . . as Jason said (and fritchie later notes):

Also I want to point out how two seemingly antagonistic concepts, (realism and abstraction), are really bound up together...each integral to the other for their meaning.

. . . and Robert:

[I . . . that at the root of all good realistic art is abstraction.[/i]

Quote:
Originally Posted by mountshang
I'm not sure why the pottery traditions are usually left out of such discussions -- as they seem, to me, to continue to offer the best examples of non-representational sculpture.
I'd venture an educated guess and say that it has to do with pottery being viewed by contemporary minds as 95% functional, even if beautiful. As I recall from my ceramics classes, we talked of historical pottery in technical terms more than "artistic" terms. Not so much the modern stuff . . . perhaps we need to distinguish the two. My favorite ceramics prof does sculptural dinnerware . . . which blurs the line between art and craft . . . which is part of his intention.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonGillespie
Abstraction is closer, in my mind, to music than the traditional way of creating art.
Fascinating thought . . . sounds like something I would think . . . will have to think on it!

And I also disagree that "The only way to prove that one is rendering thier private special vision with any accuracy, is to have proven skill rendering common objects." Although I can't say why at the moment . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by fritchie
Even Michelangelo’s David, probably the epitome of “realism” in figuration, color aside, is abstracted to a high degree. That is, it shows the sculptor’s concept of an ideal figure and, though many real persons might be found at any time who resemble David, each will deviate in obvious ways when compared.
Not only this, "David's" proportions are, IIRC, intentionally abstracted in order to make him look more "real" to the viewer. This because of the scale of the piece, and the viewer looking so far up to his face . . . and the nature of perspective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ironman
Hi, This thread kills me. It pisses me off.
Er, then, maybe you should find a forum where people don't ponder the mysterious so much . . . if you don't find interest in such theoretical discussions . . .

anatomist1's response to the idea that "Drawing is the foundation of EVERYTHING" is appropriate — but as I began this lengthy post will I also end it: There is great value in the discipline of realism as a student.
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