Abstract art is the least popular form of art, especially abstract expressionism. To me, that is very unfortunate. It is open to so many interpretations, it should be the most popular. Perhaps that is why it is not. People are intimidated and may feel foolish not immediately understanding it. Here is a clue: artists themselves do not always understand it, even if most would not admit it. Many an abstract painting has been named by someone other than its creator. When you see a work of abstract art, relax, take a deep breath and embrace the first thing that comes to mind. And I hope it is not, "My kid could have done that." If it is, you are not really trying. Children, monkeys, elephants and ants with tiny brushes strapped to their tiny feet trailing miles and miles of red and blue paint across reams and reams of the finest Japanese rice paper do not make art. Art demands intent. Young children and animals do not have intent when it comes to art. Applying pigment to paper or canvas, no matter how pleasing to the eye, is not sufficient. In order for something to be considered art, the creator must be able to explain the purpose of all elements used, color, content, and form. That is intent. There is another reason abstract art should appeal to us. Humans have evolved an ability called pareidolia, that is we can see faces and objects in vague forms. A simple example is a game we have all played, identifying animals and other stuff in clouds. Carl Sagan believed the ability evolved so that infants might quickly identify their parents faces, smile at them, and thus raise the chances their parents would pick them back up after getting a drink of water. I do not think so. I believe we evolved the trait so we might identify the predator in the bush and not be eaten. The ability to see through camouflage is a very adaptive trait. Abstract art lends itself very nicely to seeing stuff in it, a good way to practice identifying predators in the bush. ( Don’t wanna be eaten, do ya? Visit your local museum today and sharpen your pareidoliac skills, your life may depend on it…or not. ) The reason I do abstracts is because they are fun. Abstract art can be very serious and deal with very weighty matters, just ask Mark Rothko. He took it so seriously he killed himself, a great loss to the art world. I, on the other hand, feel more like a kid when I begin an abstract, a kid with a brand new box of crayons, the big box with all the colors. That is another thing about abstracts: colors and the freedom to use them.
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