I was flipping channels the other day, and I stopped on the local community college's channel. An art historian was giving a lecture. Normally, I would not be interested in that sort of lecture, but Kristen at radioactive-banana.com has been giving science geeks remedial lessons in art. Her interest and experience in physics gives me confidence that art can be something both interesting and comprehensible to me.
The lecture was on how Mondrian and Kadinsky developed their abstract styles. In both cases early paintings were shown which were representational although impressionistic, such as Mondrian's The Red Tree. The lecturer than showed that they went trough steps where the image became more an more abstract. The Grey Tree shows a branching form that resembles a tree. This step looks to me like a process of abstraction that is familiar to physicists. Eventually Mondrian ended up with paintings that were purely geometric, and I am not sure if this is the result of refining an abstraction in the sense that I am familiar with or some other process. However recognizing the idea of abstraction in art might be the same as in physics was intriguing to me.