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Understanding Abstract Art

Do you ask yourself any of these questions: What is Abstract Art? Why does it look so different from conventional Art? How can I interpret it? Can anyone - even a chimpanzee - do it?

Why are there so many all-white and all-black paintings in 20th Century art? Why did Mondrian adore masking tape and Jackson Pollock 'splash and drip'? Why was Rothko so full of "tragedy, ecstasy and doom"?

We will ask: what is meant by Organic and Geometric Abstraction, Gestural and Colour-field Painting, Op Art and Minimalism, but discover that many of these terms were dreamt up by critics and baffled even the artists!

It is often said that Abstract Art is not a style but a state of mind. Come and explore some of the ideas and emotions in key works from Kasemir Malevich to Bridget Riley.



Optional reading

Acton, Mary, Learning to Look at Modern Art, Routledge, London 2004

Batchelor, David, Movements in Modern Art - Minimalism, Tate Publishing 2001

Dawtry et al (ed.), Investigating Modern Art, The Open University 1996

Gooding, Mel, Abstract Art, Movements in Modern Art, Cambridge University Press 2001

Harrison, C. and Wood, P. (eds.), Art in Theory, 1900-1999: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Blackwell 1992

Hopkins, David, After Modern Art 1945-2000, Oxford History of Art, OUP 2000

Hughes, Robert, The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change, Thames and Hudson 1991

Whitford, Frank, Understanding Abstract Art, Barrie and Jenkins 1987