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Liquid forms 2 ( 2010 • digital • 7600 x 5179 px )

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I recently came across an interesting article: Scholars to explain what influenced abstract art. Three quotes and a comment:

abstract art ultimately springs from religious iconoclasm, the rejection of images in the name of the sacred.

(...)

According to Besanšon, the thread that connects abstraction to iconoclasm is the quest for purity in representation. He identifies a type of asceticism, a dissatisfaction with the representation of the existing world, present in both ancient iconoclastic traditions and in 20th-century art. For him, 20th-century abstractionist aesthetics contain a mystical religiosity deeply informed by esotericism.

(...)

It is analogous to the ascetic impulse in religion. Against easy sentimentality, the abstractionists took the route of austerity and purity, saying "we don't care about the public, wel'll just do what we think best," said Pavel. But, he argued, this raises a problem: "A saint who goes away from the world finds God; but in art, what is the reward for asceticism?"

Probably the most influencing factor is the time period during which abstract art emerged. The times of modern age - where the pace of change reached a rate that gets difficult to cope with.

Time is money. One is expected to produce more and faster, which often leads to increased pressure (stress) and sloppier work. No one wants that. Especially artists, who are usually more sensitive than most people and feel deeply connected to their work. So to maintain some sanity, invent a new art style - vastly simplify the visual input and thus minimize the production time. And make a statement to the cultural norms of modern time - this is what you want! Ironically the general response was and still is: we don't get it.

"Of course, in an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness."
-- Saul Bellow

Thus, at least for some artists, abstract art may have emerged as a defense mechanism - a way of surviving in the modern age.




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