Abstract Art, the Art of Expression

Abstract Art, Original Oil Painting - Excalibur
Excalibur, Abstract Art by Curtis Verdun

“The goal of abstract art is to communicate the intangible, that which eludes the photograph and normal seeing.” 

Curtis Verdun

Is Abstract Expressionism dead? Is Abstract Art as a whole past its prime?

The title of my website, Art by Abstraction, and the content of my blog posts, voice my belief that a work is not art except that, by some means, we make it distinct from reality. As it diverges from reality, the image becomes abstracted. To the extent of that abstraction the artist has greater opportunity to better communicate his artistic and visual message.

“All great art is due to the abstraction process.”

Often we forget what the term art really means, what it refers to. There is a strong tendency to generalize the meaning of art and many feel that art simply equates to a pretty picture and for most of us that’s the extent of it. Or, on the other hand, if an artist is adept at faithfully copying an image from nature, he is considered an artist. He created art.

But, the real artist, creating realart, identifies a core attribute or characteristic of a scene or the message they wish to convey and presents that to the viewer. This is the process of abstraction. This is true for all great art, from the cave paintings of Lascaux to the Byzantine era, from Rembrandt to da Vinci, from Bouguereau to Monet, from Constable to Warhol. If any of these artists simply painted only what they saw, we would never hear their name uttered, much less be viewed as a great artist.

Art is not simply a pretty picture, nor is it skillfully painting what we see, but rather a creative communication of feelings and emotions unachievable by documents of fact nor by a faithful reproduction. I strongly contend that art is the means by which we communicate emotion and feeling, in contrast to the cold hard facts.

“Art is the only means by which one soul can truly touch another.”

I am unsatisfied with the definition of ‘abstract’ that is offered by Webster, even the one as it pertains to art. However, Webster does give the origin of the word abstract: “Medieval Latin abstractus, from Latin, past participle of abstrahere to drag away, from abs-, ab- + trahere to pull, draw”

So, to me, the core meaning of abstraction is to take away from, to pull out, the very essence of the subject or scene and creatively present this to the viewer.

“The goal of abstract art is to communicate the intangible, that which eludes the photograph and normal seeing.”

In some art circles today, abstract art has become like a four-letter word, some even calling it a conspiracy. But one must realize that even with figurative and landscape art, the most profound and moving works are such because of the creativity of the artist, involving either artistic use of color, brushwork, edges are the masterful use of tone. What makes these works great is not how well they copied from nature but rather how and to what extent they abstracted from it.

So in my assessment, the spirit of Abstract Expressionism is alive and well. Furthermore, I believe Abstract Expressionism to be the purest form of visual art in that the core directive of Abstract Expressionism is mirrored by the primary definition of art itself. Art is creative expression and the most effective method of expressing emotion is by the process of abstraction. Cold hard realism simply will not do.

In my own work, I paint landscapes and figurative works as well as abstract knife paintings. In all my paintings, I aim to employ the abstraction process. That process is evident in all great works of art, works of contemporary artists as well as all the great works throughout history.

The next time you view a work of art that is critically deemed as great art, consider why it is great. It is great because it is real art . . . Art by Abstraction.

Go to my main site to read more about abstract oil paintings or contact me.

5 thoughts on “Abstract Art, the Art of Expression”

  1. I am impressed, I have to say. Very seldom do I discover a blog that’s both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Your opinion is outstanding; the matter is something that not a lot of people are speaking intelligently about. I am really happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to it.

  2. While I agree completely that “real” art is the art that flows from true experimentation and exploring your stream of thought to create something entirely unique and potentially inspiring, to categorize other art that is more based on historic formulas of traditional landscapes, portraits etc. as not true art is very limiting and somewhat self-serving. Not that I am defending the use of bland, traditional art and calling it “true” art but to say that the more experimental is the only real art I think serves only to divide the average viewer who just like art that reflects the obvious and the so-called intellectual, more sophisticated viewer. Neither is really right. Only two things matter. In the short run, do you like the art ? And in the long run, does the art stand the test of time of being considered great art by historians?

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