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  #51  
Old 08-30-2006, 02:39 PM
anatomist1 anatomist1 is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by MountainSong
Perhaps I should add, that art is a visual language, therefore the more languages we understand the more we are put into a position to develop our own unique language. Thatís why retrospectives are so interesting. It seems like it takes most artists 20-25 years to learn to speak in their own voice, up to that point it is exploring the arts through others languages who have gone before. Few artists have ever been prodigyís who popped out Year Two with anything interesting to say, also one must live long enough to have something interesting to say and have developed the tools and nuances to say it when the time comes.
Through time, studying and doing we learn to speak the visual language with finite articulation and eloquence.
Your second sentence seems to argue against your whole thesis and in favor of mine. Perhaps if people were not educated with this philosophy of being 'well-rounded' and the expectation of revereing and knowing in detail the work of so many who came before, they would not get bogged down speaking in someone else's language for so many years.

As for your language analogy itself, I'm not sure it necessarily argues the thesis either. Does one really need to learn foreign languages in order to write well in english?

Even when it comes to writing english, a huge counter-example comes to mind in the form of Mark Twain. He certainly read quite a lot, but mostly newspapers and whatever he pleased from libraries - he did not extensively study the entire lexicon of 'English Literature' of the time, and did not study foreign languages. He developed his craft writing about what he knew, about things from his own life - mostly in the form of newspaper stories at first, but his approach even to those was wildly idiosyncratic. He never had a whit of reverence those considered masters in his day, or for any established rules about how or what to write. He worked from his imagination and from what he thought was the correct rendering of good english and dialects according to his judgement. He is now widely considered to have 'invented' American Literature.
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  #52  
Old 08-30-2006, 04:44 PM
cmustard cmustard is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Hi,

There is a great book on art philosophy written by Susanne K. Langer, called "Feeling and Form" which addresses this very topic.

She comes from the premise that the basis for all art.... music, dance, visual etc....stems from the manipulation of the formal elements that go into thier making. In visual art those elements consist of, forms, lines, shapes, colors, mass, volume and so on.

It's not the depth of realism or the technical accomplishment that makes great art great. It's the dynamic created through combining formal elements. Much like the way rhythms and melodies are formed through combining notes in music.

Not all things in art are equal. Some put the notes together in more significant, powerful ways then others. Some are abstract, some are very literal. As in anything else, there are varying degrees of good, bad and great.

David
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  #53  
Old 08-31-2006, 12:45 AM
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MountainSong MountainSong is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Actually weíre not that far apart in our thinking Anatomist1, just in our approach. The thesis appears to contradict its self because of brevity; I donít want to bore people with mental minutia who are coming from a very different head space.
Iím generally against formal training and donít study other artist work or approaches for the simple reason that I think it stifles original creative thought. When I view art it is not from the fine detail nuance point of view but more from seeing the overall big picture Ė the psychology of their lifeís out put, creative exploration, expression and honing of the visual language rather than a specific paintings per say.

Aaaarg, this is so hard to explain.

What Iím working towards as an artist is the Avante Garde edge, so understanding the structures behind other artistic languages is relevant to developing a new discourse.
Letís say Iím approaching it more from the linguist point of view. Understanding the tonal inflections of languages and how their structured naturally in a way that expresses their cultural history as a people rather than the specific language/words in and of themself.

For example the Zulu clicks, whistles and wind sounds as an artifact of living on the edge of herds as a hunter people, the French languages graceful poetic sound matches with their love of fine things, the almost military clip and forcefulness of German and their concurrent history and so on. Languages carry a lot of information about a people without one having to speak the actual language.

My approach to art, at least at this time, is similar. Especially with Modern and Contemporary work it is difficult to give a specific Ďsentenceí. But it is possible to build an effective overall view and impression of an environment, idea or concept.

*sigh* Sometimes these conversations are just better in person.
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  #54  
Old 08-31-2006, 02:56 AM
anatomist1 anatomist1 is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Well, if your interest is being on the Avant Garde edge, that seems to be a different matter. In order to do that, you are going to have to have a thorough familiarity with all the contemporary stuff, stretching back into history. In that endeavor, it seems like the art is more about being part of conversation or scene. Here, not doing something that has been done before, especially unwittingly, would be very important. Also having what you do be an extension or leap off of something else that was edgy recently might be important.

As for me, I am not that concerned about these issues. If I unwittingly do something that has been done before, it doesn't bother me, as I did not do it before. Whether my work is considered edgy and avant garde, or naive, or "just folk art" or even "just craftsmanship" isn't particularly important to me. At least it hasn't been so far.

I also take photographs - sometimes landscapes which are pretty much just like something you would see on a calendar or in a nature magazine. I'm not really trying to come up with something that has never been done before - with photography this seems nearly impossible anyway. I like the picture and had some satisfaction in the process of finding and composing it. That's enough.

With sculpture, I am becoming a bit more ambitious, but not exactly sure of my ultimate goals. I always have a pretty good gut-level idea of what I want to do next, though, which also seems to be enough. My influences are almost all outside of the art realm and I see no need to look where I have little interest. I really can't fathom why some others on this thread find this so impossible or objectionable, or where the impulse to impose their own methods and opinions on others comes from.
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  #55  
Old 08-31-2006, 03:43 AM
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MountainSong MountainSong is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

You understand anatomist1. Ultimately the arts are about self expression and exploration of self. So we can only do art that is in our current life experience and expressive of what we know. We are what we think right?

Believe me Iím not even close to the avante garde yet, but for the first time in decades of creating it has suddenly come onto the radar as a realistic possibility, thereís a lot of work to be done between now and then though, but I think Iím starting to understand the processes involved finally, maybe within ten years it can happen. Is it important? No, not particularly, except to me personally. Evolution of self and ideas is what drives the 'behind the scenes' of the artist life.

Ten years of realism taught me all I cared to cover of that which could be visually and concretely experienced from the world, to continue artistically I had to continue to evolve or else stagnate.
So I explored the human experience through emotional abstractionism, painting the things we feel and the experience of emotion - yet another artistic language.
Now 2 decades away from starting as an artist itís time to explore something else, itís still a little undefined right now four pieces into a new genre, maybe something about cultural architects/mythos and the building blocks of societies as viewed through the Korean culture and expressed through contemporary/modern worksÖnot sure, it'll sort its self out though.

The point is as artist we have the possibility to explore, in a very poignant way, the world around us, and every exploration broadens our horizons and strengthens our visual dialog.
We can choose to specialize in only one genre and thus have a limited though perhaps very precise vocabulary, or become multi-lingual with a multi-pronged vocabulary. What we chose probably depends on who we are fundamentally and how daring and exploratory we are or arenít.

Itís not surprising that artists who specialize donít understand other genres, It is the nature of the beast and the nature of being human. It is also the nature of some people to label and make pronouncements on things they donít understand or care for and itís certainly not art specific either.
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  #56  
Old 08-31-2006, 12:22 PM
G. Murdoch G. Murdoch is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

I like the language analogy. In my opinion it requires greater language skill to communicate effectively the further one travels into non representation, and the best way to practice and hone visual communication skills is to spend time and effort toward the representational end of the spectrum. All languages have building blocks and evolving rules of construction; alphabets, words, syntax, grammer etc...music as well; notes, tones, harmonics, chords, rythums, etc...

What tends to happen a lot, in my experience of non-rep art, is individuals without the ability to play the simplest scales, composing discordant works of symphonic complexity, then marching under the banner of "being true to my inner vision". I know I'm repeating myself, but what the hell. Please learn the basic rules of visual communication by practising representation, then proceed to express your inner vision through whatever abstractions inspire.

There are many exceptions. One of my favorite works of art is a pencil crayon drawing of the sky that my daughter gave me for father's day several years ago. All of the art that she has given me over the years arouses predictable sentimental attachment. I love her. She made this for me. It's beautiful. I love it! However this one drawing is absolutely visually compelling to look at. I can hardly tear my eyes away. At the time that she made it, she had the drawing skill of, well, an 8 year old, yet it possesses in large measure that special something which makes a work of art great. It is not present in the vast majority of her drawings. Though I love everything she does for sentimental reasons, I love this drawing for sentimental and aesthetic reasons.

On the other end of the scale, I have stood before many works of art which were clearly rendered with skill, yet they leave me feeling flat.

As I ramble through this, I'm becoming convinced that there are no hard and fast rules which work in all situations. There is the personal and private reaction to each work encountered.

Even if a thousand of these discussions leave the issue unresolved, it is fun to engage in them. Language frisbee.

Graham
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  #57  
Old 08-31-2006, 04:56 PM
classicalsculpt classicalsculpt is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

To me it is all about what I enjoy. I have created some pieces that no one else "understood". After a while it bothered me to hear too much of how others "don't understand art", because that meant they could not enjoy it, appreciate it or be inspired by it.

I believe I create art first for myself, and then for others. If it is only for me, or only for others, I am not fulfilling my quest as an artist. To solve this block in my creativity, I changed to realism a few years ago, and feel a whole lot better, with no regrets. But that does not mean there are not abstractions in my work. Realism at its best is not a slavish copy. A true artist finds a way to interpret it in some sort of beautifull expression.

My hope is that people will gather something of value from my work long after I am gone, that it will communicate something to inspire without having to think too hard.

The thought comes to mind, that if I could put something in a time capsule, for future generations, would they be able to see clearly what I am leaving for them about our human civilization?
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  #58  
Old 08-31-2006, 05:46 PM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Hi, I've taken the opposite approach, I continue to make non-obj sculpture and I
make it for me. What has happened is that there are less people that like or understand the work. I'll live with that.
I had a good friend once who, whenever he veered toward non-obj work,( and he did a few great pieces) would always head back to figurative, stylized work. That was where he got the oohs, ahs and the "atta boy" pats on the back. I always chalked it up to his ego and the boosting up of it.
I knew his work and him very well, and felt that he was shortchanging himself for the sake of ego gratification. I do have to admit though that it did bother me when people would say to me, "wow, -----'s a great sculptor, isn't he? He really knows his shit!"
All the while, I'm the one he came to for sculptural advice, and he always took it!
While I'm not suggesting that you're in the same catagory as him, I just wanted to pass that along.
I do think though that it's been harder to take my position, (that doesn't make me a better sculptor than you).
One other thing, I could get my work shown and he couldn't even get in a juried show!
I have to run so I've gotta cut this post short.
Have a great day,
Jeff
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  #59  
Old 08-31-2006, 07:08 PM
RWJR RWJR is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

seems to me, abstract and realism have both been here a long time, longer than anyone in this group. Has'nt it done it's thing, is there really something new to say? Maybe you can say you use a new technique, but that's not really important, like carving shit with a spoon, who care? I feel it's not important to have this need to be better than. It's more important to me to enjoy this lifestyle, making things and following the trail to the next thing to be made. It sure taste like steak to me!
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  #60  
Old 09-01-2006, 07:24 AM
cmustard cmustard is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Ironman,
You've talked about the need to draw first. I believe the the opposite also applies, the need to be able to "see pure form"

I think that a lot of figurative sculptors get caught up in the images they are making and forget that sculpture (even figurative sculpture) is really about form and space. So no matter how pretty thier eyes may be, without a strong sense of this the piece will suffer.

I believe that looking at non-objective work and making non-objective work can be a real asset to someone who considers themself a figurative sculptor. It's a real exercise in "seeing"
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  #61  
Old 09-01-2006, 08:24 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Hi, I think that both learning to do the figure in clay and also life drawing are important and necessary for a sculptors development.
My main sculptor teacher & mentor, wouldn't let anyone do non-obj work until they learned realism first!
It's how you learn to discriminate what to put in & what to leave out, to get to the essense of what your trying to say.
I do non-obj steel sculpture but I value very highly those life drawing & clay classes that I took.
In the end it all boils down to the sculptors creativity & intelligence.
2 examples of great work on this sight.
Under "sculpture news & events", check out "Reliquiae" by Sam Spicczka.
Under "Images Gallery", check out "Forgiving Wall" by Mountainsong.
Both works are better by far than the following piece, which, although he seems to know his anatomy, for my money, he hasn't learned how to sculpt.
That piece would be.
Under "Images Gallery", check out "Wow, what a sculpture", posted by Merlion.
Not a very good piece! No taste or discrimination, just lumped everything in, so much so that, to me, it says nothing.
Now, it seems as if he knows anatomy, so I would be contradicting myself, but I don't think he knows how to SEE.
Have a great day,
Jeff
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  #62  
Old 09-01-2006, 03:55 PM
cmustard cmustard is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Yes, I'm in agreement with you on the drawing issue and which discipline should come first. I was just pointing out that looking at and understanding "pure form" could also be valuable to those who work with the figure.

Here's a question, would it matter if you learned from drawing only, lets say, trees rather then the human form?

David
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  #63  
Old 09-01-2006, 09:42 PM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Hi, cmustard, I really don't think so, because all those things that you learn about, light & dark, negative space, essense as opposed to detail, etc., could all be taught by looking at a tree.
BUT, I think that the human form is harder to draw than a tree and offers more of a variation of things (such as hard-soft) in a single figure than a tree does.
The other thing is that I think we (obviously) relate to the figure more, it's us, there's a history to it, (not that there isn't to landscape) and a history of using the figure to train painters as well as sculptors. Something i'm sure, that goes back way before the renaissance.
Have a great day,
Jeff
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  #64  
Old 09-01-2006, 10:33 PM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

The guy I took drawing 101 from used to pound into my (our) heads, "Always use a source!". Now I really understood that in drawing. Doesn't matter much what the source is but it does help to keep your focus on the objective, after all there are all those colors and things there to confuse you.
Found I didn't need a source in pottery. Found drawing and choosing one as a source to be a very good idea in silver smithing, and in sculpture I have found that working in steel you need a damned good idea of where you are going. Ain't no free form in contruction outside of apes.
I have found in carving (removal is so different than additive) that a drawing is a great source if you are only working on a form, but if you allow the medium to influence you then it is good as a starting point only.
That does not take anything away from the ability to draw, it is just that it can be a greater influence depending on what you are doing. If it is a focus for a design concept or a schematic for your work is basically worlds apart. It is a tool and not all tools are needed or used by everyone.

Thatch
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  #65  
Old 09-02-2006, 08:20 AM
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Learning something seems a lot better than fumbling around at the time you need it. I can draw because I love to do it. The human form is pretty basic and repetitive. Once you learn basic anatomy you can apply it to every figure. You can manipulate it as you please. I think most artists can draw anything except the human form. That scares most people. That is what I love best. Not that I've mastered it but that is what I am compelled to do. I'm working at sculpting right now and the lessons I learned in drawing are most important to me in doing the human form. So I guess if you are going to sculpt graceful, realistic bodies it would help to know where things go. That doesn't mean that if you have a model standing in front of you , you couldn't just "copy" her. But if you know anatomy already you are much freer to put your heart into it and not have to manipulate and manipulate and manipulate. I guess I'm saying, knowledge is freedom. If you are an abstract artist you probably get the feeling of grace and get to express it without the pull of realism to distract you. I admire abstract and realist art. Some more than others. We all know what we like and if it works for you don't mess with it. But what do I know? Scout
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  #66  
Old 09-02-2006, 09:08 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Hi, It's not so much that drawing the figure make you a great draftsman but that it teaches you to SEE things that the average person misses or can't grasp.
I make non-obj welded steel sculpture, but the lessons I learned in life drawing are constantly used for every part of the process, the forms and how they relate to one another, how the light and shadow works, the feeling expressed or lack of, keeping the piece from becoming decorative, does it work in the round, etc.
All depend on that "learning how to see" that is a direct result of "life drawing"
Have a great day,
Jeff
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  #67  
Old 09-02-2006, 10:25 AM
cmustard cmustard is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

I think you're on target when you say "learning how to see". One thing I'll say about drawing the figure from life, is that it forces a way of seeing which causes our perception of the world around us to look a little different. Visually, things begin to have a more prowerful presence in the space they exist, literally.

I heard a drawing class (back in the 70's) where the students would observe a model then leave the room to draw what they had seen.
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  #68  
Old 09-02-2006, 05:42 PM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

Hi, Sure, that's called a memory pose, We also did continuous line drawings, negative space drawings and other stuff that I don't even remember but that I'm sure if filed away somewhere in that grey matter, or what's left of it!
Have a great day,
Jeff
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  #69  
Old 09-02-2006, 11:43 PM
Thatch Thatch is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

I think one of the best exersizes I ever had to do was the continuous contour drawing without looking at the paper. Most all of those I did were on newsprint and ended up as wrapping paper at Christmas, but after a while it was surprising how well you can develope you eye/hand coordination. And that is something that everyone will use throughout their lives making Art or not chopping off a finger in the kitchen.

Thinking back I figure that the eye/hand coordination helped me work on the old car that I nursed through my school years and the planning and execution skills needed for many of my projects helped me in the same area and others down the line. Gardening for instance.

Sculpting and jewelry making came easy to me, drawing I had to work hard at. The work has paid off in many areas in my life since.

Another thing that hasn't been touched on is muscle memory, though I guess eye/hand coordination is close to it. When you work hard enough on finely controlling your movements as in drawing it pays off in just about everything you do except sleeping.

Drawing is important for any artist whether or not you need it or use it in creating sculpture.

As to this seeing things, I always figured that society teaches you how to look at things and an artist has the ability to see things in a way that goes beyond the looking that recognition requires. There certainly are other professions that do this as well. Engineering, architecture and landscaping come to mind. The hunter is different from the baker, etc. Some of you might be surprised at the years of learning it took to train my pallete, nose and memory to become basically a master of fine wines. My nose gives me different and stronger signals than most people and it is a matter of honing an aspect of perception. As in other things the perception must be there to be honed but I am sure everyone gets my meaning. To hear the differences in different brands of vacuum tubes in my and friends HiFi systems takes a lot of listening but if your ears are no good no amount of time can help you. Yea, I wear ear protection all the time, just like I do eye and respitory. Well maybe not when I draw.

I got a bit OT there but it does all tie in. Sorry about the ramble but I am in a great mood having got a real nice chunk of Mesquite today to use as a pedestal.

Stay safe this weekend!
Thatch
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  #70  
Old 09-03-2006, 10:32 PM
jim jim is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

ralph goings started out in abstract and is now one of the great
american photorealist painters today..check him out...ralphgoings.com

jim
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  #71  
Old 09-16-2006, 05:14 PM
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Darkcloud Darkcloud is offline
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Re: Abstract Art vs Realism

... in Realism, after conceptualization (choice of subject, how to represent it etc.), the pressure is on getting the details right... in Abstraction it's much more complex... the whole process could be conceptualization or the lack of it... it's on how to get the message across, even if the artist has nothing to say, don't know how to say or don't know what the hell his doing... part of being an artist is to embrace the possibillity of being misunderstood... it is not how it is said or if others get what you said... what's more important is to try to get something across... even if it's badly said...QEI
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