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Author Topic: abstract?  (Read 9284 times)
sgwrx
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« on: March 25, 2007, 01:33:13 AM »
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i'm having a hard time understanding "abstract" in terms of photography and specifically in terms of black and white photography. a few friends and family have seen some of my black and white prints and like them very much describing them as abstract.  a beach, a building.

a google search for definition of abstract art "not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature; 'a large abstract painting' "

i'm fairly familiar with abstract painting for example from van gogh - color paintings. so abstract does not seem to apply to black and white photography to me. black and white seems more concrete, real, a representation of reality.

but in general, a color or B&W photo could be abstract or real depending on the shapes within the photo.
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John Camp
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2007, 09:50:05 PM »
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First of all, Van Gogh didn't do abstract paintings. The first real abstract paintings came about 23 years after Van Gogh's death; many scholars concede the first true abstractions to Wassily Kandinsky in 1912-13, although there are some dissenters. Before that, paintings were sometimes "abstracted," but from nature -- distorted (Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, etc.), perhaps with arbitrary colors (the Fauves) and sometimes with unusual shapes or views (Picasso & Braque with Cubism.) However, true abstracts, in which the meaning was entirely contained within the borders of the painting and which didn't derive its meaning from anything else (other than perhaps an aesthetic theory,) came with Kandinsky and his circle. They are best thought of as non-representational -- they don't represent anything but themselves.

"Abstract photography" arrived with modernism after World War I -- early modernist photographers often did pattern pictures (where you couldn't tell what was being portrayed; they were simply shapes interesting in themselves, like stacks of pipe seen from the ends, wrought-iron fences in silhouette, shadows on a sidewalk, or super-macros of leaves, etc.) Other people did film manipulations entirely within a photo lab, without actually shooting a photograph. The end products weren't readily identifiable: they produced pleasure with color, line, and shape, rather than a reference to nature or a real or natural object.

More recently, "abstract photography" has been expaned to include thigns that are not really abstract, but simply printed in an unusual way -- heavy filters, mirror distortions, etc. They're not really abstracts, but they're often called that.

To look at really abstract paintings, check http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/kandinsky/
and look at the paintings after about 1913.

To check some abstract photography, look at some of the Man Ray photos here:

 http://www.manray-photo.com/catalog/index....11717abee41c51f

JC
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sgwrx
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2007, 03:37:06 PM »
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Thanks.  I like Kandinsky a lot!
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jule
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2007, 01:48:16 AM »
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Quote
i'm having a hard time understanding "abstract" in terms of photography and specifically in terms of black and white photography. a few friends and family have seen some of my black and white prints and like them very much describing them as abstract.  a beach, a building.

a google search for definition of abstract art "not representing or imitating external reality or the objects of nature; 'a large abstract painting' "

i'm fairly familiar with abstract painting for example from van gogh - color paintings. so abstract does not seem to apply to black and white photography to me. black and white seems more concrete, real, a representation of reality.

but in general, a color or B&W photo could be abstract or real depending on the shapes within the photo.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=108554\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I have a wonderful reference book entitled "Die Kunst der Abstrakten Fotografie - The Art of Abstract Photography"  Published by Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2002. A large portion of the book deals with "what is Abstract Photography", with illustrations from the early 1900's until recently. It is very expensive, but is a work of art in itself, and worth having in one's library if one is at all interested in Abstract Photography.

Julie
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sgwrx
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2007, 11:13:47 PM »
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thanks julie. i'll have a look and see if i can locate a copy. it seems right up the alley to help me get a handle on the genre!
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kombizz
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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2007, 12:18:45 AM »
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You could check out at some of my abstracts here:

my abStractS
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2007, 02:42:03 AM »
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You could check out at some of my abstracts here:

my abStractS
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=121737\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Abstracts certainly - but I'm interested to know how many of them have photographic origins?

It is hard to draw the line I know - but personally, I expect to see at least something that looks as if it had been a photo, however much distorted or processed. Some of these look like pure CGI (even if they aren't).
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