A brief life and death of abstract art

 Red, Pure Yellow, and Pure Blue , which, as her titles indicate, were paintings of one color. Rudchenko declared the death of the drawing with his provocative movement, which sounded the alarm as it did not come out of nowhere as far as the expected zero moment since that phenomenon known as “abstract” art became rampant.

An “abstract” description is called any de-facto art and is based on configurations of pure shapes and colors. Contrary to the blatant accusations of authoritarian regimes in every direction, trying to attribute that phenomenon to Jewish communist conspiracies (according to Hitler), or to bourgeois subversion schemes (according to Stalin), the actual reasons for the transfer of painting from the portrayal of flowers and children, etc., to paintings Of one color, they are reasons that can only be captured by returning half a century back to Paris.

According to the official biography (there is a multiplicity of historians), the first symptoms of abstraction became clear in 1863, a conventional birth certificate. When the painter, Edouard Manet, presented his scandal as a  food on the grass , it seemed as if an imbalance, intentional, had filled the void in the painting. Since the fifteenth century, when Italians discovered the laws of mathematical perspective that allowed the transfer of three-dimensional reality on the surface of a two-dimensional painting, most Western art has been based on imitating reality, or rather on simulating it, i.e. creating a reality parallel to our reality in the painting, imagining the viewer as real That its inhabitants are living people of flesh, blood and feelings.

In the Mani e painting , the woman appears in the background is too large, as if the back of the painting is approaching the front of it so that the distant mixes with the relative, and the man on the right extends his hand as he touches the horizon line, which has become in his reach. Characters lose their material and shadows, turning them into leafy beings staring at empty gazes, floating on the void instead of dwelling on it. Even the fruit basket opens its mouth toward us, as if the plate was deep, attacking the viewer and pushing it on its way. If the paintings were historically bogus windows on another world, then the grassy world of Siran Manet spills toward us to hit the windowpane, refusing to give the viewer a spacious and persuasive void that conveys his consideration or realistic details that contemplate it. The laws of gravity, shadow, and perspective stop working, and the viewer feels before flat images.

Art historians have called this phenomenon “flatness”, a phenomenon that was in its beginnings with Manet, who developed intelligent techniques to filter the third dimension and stifle any sense of depth, such as blurring the depth of the painting with the  smoke of a train  , for example, or  darkening the background  so that it repels the viewer from imagining any extension. Gradually, the void in Western paintings began to apply to itself, becoming two-dimensional panels. But isn’t the 2D panel a definition? And why should the artist originally circumvent that fact to delude the viewer with imaginary depth?

In a famous sentence from the end of the century, artist Maurice Dennis says that the painting «before it was a battle horse, nude woman, or tale of any kind, is essentially a smooth surface covered by colors arrayed in an arrangement». The truth is easy and clear, but its results are dangerous, as soon as the painters began to realize that their drawing has always been based on self-denial: camouflaging brush strokes, making artificial colors imitate the natural colors of the sky, sun and everyday objects, using mathematical tricks to simulate false depth.

The invention of alarm clock was the first in this ethical and aesthetic vigilance process, as the camera left drawing in a critical situation, trying to redefine its role at a time when seconds can transmit any reality on a two-dimensional surface, and with greater accuracy. Thus the Impressionists began breaking down reality into  color  and light impressions , while Cezan reduced things to a minimum, “stripping” them, and his famous successive paintings of the same mountain appear how   little trees and houses lose their details , eventually turning into  cloudy forms , and then into  smudges. Chromaticity .

Picasso continues the Cezanne revolution, where everything in the poet’s painting  from 1911, for example , is transformed  into intertwined and cubic geometrical surfaces (including the nickname “cubic”). It is no longer clear whether black is a shadow cast by light that is no longer basically uniform or logical, or it is just a color, near and far colors are drowning and only remain on farewell features of reality, a line wrapped at the bottom denotes a leaf, and a hierarchical structure that indicates a person holding it .

As for the abstraction in its complete form, it will be born in the enthusiastic era between 1910 and 1920, when it seemed as though a revelation had descended at the same time to a group of artists in distant places, inciting them to push art towards an unprecedented acceleration in its history. Go Kazemir Malevich in Russia , for example , from  cubist style  close to the Picasso to abstract paintings based on  geometric shapes  dynamic and vibrant, while I took  the landscape  Dutch artist Mondrian Baltkaab  more , in more , until it turned into  the famous surfaces  based on straight lines and basic colors of the three. In parallel, Kandinsky lived in Germany a similar shift from  natural scenes  to color combinations that are subject only to what he called “internal need”, and are similar to music with titles such as “A”Improvisation and ” composition “, as music is the only art not based on simulating reality.

These artists reached the same conclusion: that reality is an intruder to art, and that the only subject of the painting must be itself, its colors and shapes, that the function of art must be in pure artistic expression of impurities out of its logic, and that abstraction is the means of painting to reconcile with its nature as mere colors On a flat canvas.

But drawing was not the only one to arrive at that result. One of the main characteristics of what we call modernity is the belief in the duty to separate the various fields and urged each of them to search for its truth in its technical capabilities, not outside it, in order to develop towards achieving itself. Musical instruments stop the tradition of human singing by Debussy, the language of Wolf and Joyce from simulating a chronological narration of reality, while modernist architecture departs from imitating plants and sculptures with their motifs and structures. Abstraction is the mother tongue of modernism when it is ripe.

With the beginnings of campaigns to restrict abstract art in the 1930s, Alfred Barr, founder of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, sensed that those experiences point to a historical moment that must be defined, and he took it upon himself to arrange abstract movements in a  scheme  that illustrates their complex relationships and, most importantly, their distant roots: foreign art that entered Europe through the colonies and dazzled artists quickly, the Japanese art which left its impact on the paintings  Gauguin  and Bonnard , even  African masks  in the paintings of Picasso.

Despite its importance, the Bar Plan simplifies a much more complex history, in fact, by making all of these movements and arts flow into one of two packages: abstract engineering and non-engineering art, as if Asian art, Cezanne and Mane are just passing steps to achieve an inherent historical imperative in the need for art to evolve. In fact, it is surprising to see the varying agendas that artists claim to work are almost identical in the end, while Malevich adopts   a spiritual discourse that justifies abstraction by “the superiority of the pure sense” of the transient material world, the Hungarian paintings of Moholie-Nag claim   the completely opposite meaning, adopting the aesthetics of the world Modern industrial to put art at the service of design and practical needs of man.

But whether the agendas of abstract artists are spiritual, social, or political, most of them have become aware of the primary threat to abstraction: that paintings turn into mere adornments. The idea of ​​using colors and shapes to create abstract configurations from reality is not a Western or modern invention, since the Bronze Ages and through Roman murals, Islamic motifs and Indian embroidery, craftsmen created complex visual vocabulary with a high degree of abstraction, but its function remained cosmetic, and its aim was not to deliver messages or move ability Intellectual. A way must therefore be found to prevent the abstract painting from turning into wallpaper, from turning art into decoration.

According to Clement Greenberg, the art critic who is famous for his fierce defense of abstraction, the solution is to keep the painting “in a dramatic imbalance.”  This is illustrated in the Kandinsky yellow-blue-red painting  For example, from 1925, when shapes do not conform to repetitive and symmetric units as in the traditional decoration, but rather enter into a struggle that destroys their stability. Polychromatic gradients polish each other, with blue and violet gradients forming in organic forms against yellow, which solidifies in a glowing geometric block, circles and other lines floating around the two blocks to contribute to this color battle. In his writings, Kandinsky notes that the yellow moves toward the viewer the longer he looks at it, while the blue, the spiritual color par excellence, moves away and introvertes himself. Kandinsky associates these color phenomena with inner feelings of a spiritual and cosmic character, considering the painting a living creature writhing and breathing, revealing its complexities and contradictions whenever we look at it, and thus differs from any automatic decoration seeking anesthesia or a kind of easy pleasure.

Abstraction reached the height of its universality in the 1950s, and it was widely known in the Arab world with painters such as  Abdullah bin Antar  in Algeria and Salwa Rawdah Shuqair  in Lebanon, and then  Mahmoud Hammad  in Syria and Kamal Balata  in Palestine, and many others whose names today live in dusty corners. For Arab memory, without talking about their works, which are badly lacking in the necessary documentation and study.

Nothing expresses the sorrowful end of abstraction rather than a painting by artist  De Koning  in passing in passing, adorning one of the corridors of a company in  a Hollywood movie . De Koning, along with Pollock  , Rothko,  and others, formed the  last heroic generation of abstract painting, their school was called abstract expressionism, and was considered the pinnacle of modern art and the symbol of American democracy and individualism during the Cold War. With them, the article approaches the end of his almost impossible journey by summarizing the story of abstraction in a few paragraphs, preferring – for space constraints – drawing at the expense of abstract arts no less important as sculpture and cinema.

In terms of symmetry with the introduction, it seems appropriate to end a symbolic date of the death of abstraction. Of all the options, perhaps no better date is from 1955, when Ruschenberg displayed a   stained bed hung horizontally on the wall, formally (and literally) declaring reality a return to art again. Abstraction rested in this resting place in the form of random colors hinting, with a bit of sadness, of this abstractionism. The bedspread decorated with local folklore is another cruel joke that frightens the abstraction from transforming their art into decoration, as if any colored square squares can be abstract art if they are stuck in a showroom.

Ruschenberg’s bed brings to mind a scene from one of Thomas Pinchon’s novels (who in turn declared the death of modernity in literature): “The insatiable filling of a sleeping mattress preserves the traces of every sweat his son has a nightmare, every helpless bladder or wet dream satisfying ferociously and tears, as a computer memory of the lost.” [2]  On Ruschenberg’s bed, the last utopia of modernity, bright and exhausting, falls asleep in a sleepless position.


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