Meanings of Abstract Art: Between Nature and Theory

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-06-19
  • Publisher: Routledge

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This book explores the relation of abstract art to nature. Traditional picturing and sculpture are based on conventions of resemblance between the work and that which it is a representation "of". Abstract works, in contrast, adopt alternative modes of visual representation, or break down and reconfigure the mimetic conventions of pictorial art and sculpture. Obviously this means that abstract art takes many different forms. However, this diversity should not mask some key structural features; these center on two basic relations to nature (understanding nature in the broadest sense “ to comprise the world of recognisable objects, creatures, organisms, processes, and states of affairs). The first involves abstracting fromnature, to give selected aspects of it a new and extremely unfamiliar appearance. The second involves abstract art as the affirmation of a relatively unconstrained natural creativity that issues in new, autonomousforms that are not constrained by mimetic conventions. (Such creativity is often attributed to the power of the unconscious.) The book contains three categories of essays: 1) those on classical modernism (Mondrian, Malevich, Kandinsky, Arp, early American abstraction), 2) those on post-war abstraction (Pollock, Still, Newman, Smithson, Noguchi, Arte Povera, Michaux, postmodern developments), and 3) those of a broader art historical and philosophical

Table of Contents

List of Figuresp. vii
Introductionp. 1
Life into Art: Nature Philosophy, the Life Sciences, and Abstract Artp. 9
Mondrian's First Diamond Composition: Spatial Totality and the Plane of the Starry Skyp. 30
Man, Space, and the Zero of Form: Kazimir Malevich's Suprematism and the Natural Worldp. 47
The Role of Mathematical Structure, Natural Form, and Pattern in the Art Theory of Wassily Kandinsky: The Quest for Order and Unityp. 64
"We want to produce like a plant that produces a fruit": Hans Arp and the "Nature Principle"p. 81
Natural Forces and Phenomena as Inspiration and Meaning in Early American Abstractionp. 97
Jackson Pollock: The Sin of Imagesp. 118
Clyfford Still's Regionalist Shamanismp. 135
"Man is Present": Barnett Newman's Search for the Experience of the Selfp. 141
Nature, Entropy, and Robert Smithson's Utopian Vision of a Culture of Decayp. 158
Embodied Nature: Isamu Noguchi's Intetra Fountainp. 169
The Arte Povera Experience: Nature Re-Presentedp. 184
Nature's Hand: Writing Abstraction in the Work of Henri Michauxp. 198
Abstract Art and Techno-Nature: The Postmodern Dimensionp. 217
Art, Beauty, and the Sacred: Four Ways to Abstractionp. 241
The Complexities of "Abstracting" from Naturep. 255
Meaning in Abstract Art: From Ur-Nature to the Transperceptualp. 270
Bibliographyp. 283
Contributorsp. 285
Indexp. 289
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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