Art, abstract

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-M001-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2011
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

2. Basic distinctions

‘Schematizing abstraction’ as used here covers certain forms of depiction which severely curtail the extent to which the visible properties of their subjects are made manifest. The outcome might have been produced by beginning from a natural motif seen from a single point of view and then, for ends quite removed from verisimilitude, reducing its descriptive content as well as adding pattern that is either not descriptive or deviantly so, relative to traditional standards. In contrast, nonfigurative or nonobjective abstraction eliminates all literally descriptive references in order to free expressive or intellectual content from all encumbrance. The work might be produced by beginning from lines, forms, textures and colours, which are then worked up into aesthetically self-sufficient totalities. Neither category has a sharp boundary, and claims for the superiority of one over the other are doubtful. But the distinction deserves respect since it denotes a significant difference of interest of both the artist and the appropriately responsive viewer. Sculpture is represented in both schematizing and nonfigurative abstraction, and cinema occasionally in the second. Beyond these two large divisions of abstraction there is a disorderly mob of forms typically lumped under abstract art for convenience. Many of these are probably better placed elsewhere.

Citing this article:
Brown, John H.. Basic distinctions. Art, abstract, 2011, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-M001-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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