Abstract Art

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.

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One Response to “Abstract Art”

  1. Artists do focus on things that interest them once they feel they’ve got a degree of mastery of their materials. Sometimes that does involve getting rid of irrelevant details. Which is what physicists do when they do first-order approximations!

    The history of art and the history of science are both part of the history of ways we perceive the world. Even if scientists didn’t go in for art much when they were younger, they might be pleased to discover how there are quite a few links between art and technology. I’ll try to keep the digestible art history tidbits coming!

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