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Acuario, Karen D.

Mr. Eric C. Marasigan



Abstract and Pointillism

Abstraction begins in reality. Seeks the essence of an object. May be expressed through
simplification, stylization, fragmentation, re-assembly, and/or distortion. Refer to artists
such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, David Hockney, early Wassily Kandinsky
Non-objective abstraction Abstraction which does not refer to an object. Refer to
artists such as Jackson Pollack, Hans Hoffman, Mark Rothko, later Wassily Kandinsky.
Texture refers to the sense of touch. Simulated texture looks like it feels a certain way.
Actual texture really does feel a certain way.
Rhythm repetition, but not exact as in pattern, of an object. Helps move the eye through
an image.
Movement refers to the path the eye takes through an image. May be achieved through
repetition of line, shape, color, texture.
Unity pulls different elements of a composition together. May be achieved with effective
movement and rhythm in an image.
Definition and Meaning
The term 'abstract art' - also called "non-objective art", "non-figurative", "nonrepresentational", "geometric abstraction", or "concrete art" - is a rather vague umbrella
term for any painting or sculpture which does not portray recognizable objects or scenes.
However, as we shall see, there is no clear consensus on the definition, types or aesthetic
significance of abstract art. Picasso thought that there was no such thing, while some art
critics take the view that all art is abstract - because, for instance, no painting can hope
to be more than a crude summary (abstraction) of what the painter sees.
In abstract art, the artist uses a visual language of shapes, forms, lines and colors to
interpret a subject-matter, without necessarily providing the viewer with a recognisable
visual reference point.
What is the Idea Behind Abstract Art?
The basic premise of abstraction - incidentally, a key issue of aesthetics - is that the
formal qualities of a painting (or sculpture) are just as important (if not more so) than its
representational qualities.

Let's start with a very simple illustration. A picture may contain a very bad drawing of a
man, but if its colours are very beautiful, it may nevertheless strike us as being a beautiful
picture. This shows how a formal quality (colour) can override a representational one
On the other hand, a photorealist painting of a terraced house may demonstrate exquisite
representationalism, but the subject matter, colour scheme and general composition may
be totally boring. The philosophical justification for appreciating the value of a work of
art's formal qualities stems from Plato's statement that:
"straight lines and circles are... not only beautiful... but eternally and absolutely beautiful."
In essence, Plato means that non-naturalistic images (circles, squares, triangles and so on)
possess an absolute, unchanging beauty. Thus a painting can be appreciated for its line and
colour alone - it doesn't need to depict a natural object or scene. The French painter,
lithographer and art theorist Maurice Denis (1870-1943) was getting at the same thing
when he wrote: "Remember that a picture - before being a war horse or a nude woman... is
essentially a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order."
Types of Abstract Art
To keep things simple, we can divide abstract art into six basic types:

Colour-Related or Light-Related
Emotional or Intuitional

Some of these types are less abstract than others, but all are concerned with separating
art from reality.
Curvilinear Abstract Art
This type of curvilinear abstraction is strongly associated with Celtic Art, which employed
a range of abstract motifs including knots (eight basic types), interlace patterns, and
spirals (including the triskele, or the triskelion). These motifs were not original to the
Celts - many other early cultures had been utilizing these Celtic designs for centuries: see
for instance the spiral engravings at the Neolithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange in Co
Meath, created some 2000 years before the appearance of the Celts. However, it is fair
to say that Celtic designers breathed new life into these patterns, making them much
more intricate and sophisticated in the process.

Colour-Related or Light-Related Abstract Art

This type is exemplified in works by Turner and Monet, that use colour (or light) in such a
way as to detach the work of art from reality, as the object dissolves in a swirl of
pigment. Two instances of Turner's style of expressive abstraction have already been
mentioned, to which we can add his Interior at Petworth (1837, Tate Collection).
Geometric Abstraction
This type of intellectual abstract art emerged from about 1908 onwards. An early
rudimentary form was Cubism, specifically analytical Cubism - which rejected linear
perspective and the illusion of spatial depth in a painting, in order to focus on its 2-D
aspects. Geometric Abstraction is also known as Concrete Art and Non-Objective Art. As
you might expect, it is characterized by non-naturalistic imagery, typically geometrical
shapes such as circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, and so forth. In a sense - by
containing absolutely no reference to, or association with, the natural world - it is the
purest form of abstraction.
Emotional or Intuitional Abstract Art
This type of intuitional art embraces a mix of styles, whose common theme is a naturalistic
tendency. This naturalism is visible in the type of shapes and colours employed. Unlike
Geometric Abstraction, which is almost anti-nature, intuitional abstraction often evokes
nature, but in less representational ways. Two important sources for this type of abstract
art are: Organic Abstraction (also called Biomorphic abstraction) and Surrealism.
Gestural Abstract Art
This is a form of abstract expressionism, where the process of making the painting
becomes more important than usual. Paint may be applied in unusual ways, brushwork is
often very loose, and rapid.
Minimalist Abstract Art
This type of abstraction was a back-to-basics sort of avant-garde art, stripped of all
external references and associations. It is what you see - nothing else. It often takes a
geometrical form, and is dominated by sculptors, although it also includes some great
Abstract art timeline:
1850 - 1907 : Philosophical debate calls into question the established values of classical
1905 - 1915 : Pablo Picasso and Georges Braques create cubism and Henri Matisse's
fauvism serves as a bridge between post-impressionism and expressionism. Before the
advent of cubism, Picasso's 1907 painting Les Demoisselles d'Avignon already inspires many
artists to abstractism (Kandinsky, Lger).
1910 : First signs of pure abstract art: Kandinsky, Mondrian.

1912 - 1925 : Piet Mondrian and Russian abstract artists, led by Kasimir Malevich's
suprematism and Vladimir Tatlin's constructivism, complete the creation of pure abstract
art. Modigliani sets benchmark for abstract portraitism.
1925 - 1945 : Period characterised by geometric abstraction (De Stijl) and painterly
automatism (Joan Mir).
1945 - 1960 : Painterly automatism becomes more radical in abstract expressionism and
art informel, while some artists combine automatism with geometric abstraction (Rothko).
1960 - 1980 : Introduction of abstract art with design characteristics, as in Op Art, Pop
Art and contemporary geometric abstraction.
1980 - NOW : Postmodernism - artistic inability to innovate or lack of social acceptance of
II. Pointillism
In fine art, the term "pointillism" (from the French word "point" meaning "dot") describes
a technique of Neo-Impressionism painting, in which hundreds of small dots or dashes of
pure colour are applied to the canvas, or other ground, in order to create maximum
luminosity. That is, instead of mixing colour pigments on a palette and then applying the
mixture onto the painting, the Pointillist applies small dots of pure unmixed colour directly
onto the picture and relies on the eye of the viewer to mix the colours optically. Viewed at
the right distance, (supposedly three times the diagonal measurement) the dots of colour
give a richer and more subtle effect than can be achieved by conventional techniques.
Pointillism (actually an offshoot of Divisionism) was the most influential style of PostImpressionist painting (1880-95) and was practised by Post-Impressionist painters from a
number of different schools. Italian Divisionism, led by Vittore Grubicy De Dragon (18511920), was especially active.
Who Invented Pointillism?
The founder of Pointillism was Georges Seurat (1859-91), a model student at the Ecole des
Beaux-Arts in Paris. A traditional, and conventional classical painter, he rejected
Impressionism, a style of painting and colour based on the subjective responses of the
individual artist, in favour of a more scientific method which he developed around 1884 and
called Chromoluminarism. Based on the scientific colour theory of the French chemist
Michel Eugene Chevreul (Law of Simultaneous Colour Contrast, 1839), and the American
physicist Ogden Rood (Modern Chromatics, 1879), the method was used to a degree by the
Impressionist painters, but only on an ad hoc basis, and it was not developed systematically
until Seurat.
Seurat's main disciple was the former Impressionist Paul Signac (1863-1935). A coastal
landscape artist, Signac was strongly attracted by the scientific method behind Pointillism
and Divisionism and, after Seurat's death in 1891, he became the leading exponent of the
Neo-Impressionist movement. In addition to oil paintings and watercolours, he also
produced a number of lithographs, etchings and pen-and-ink sketches composed of tiny,

laboriously laid out dots. A strong supporter of younger artists within the PostImpressionism movement, Signac was reportedly the first person to buy a painting from
Henri Matisse.
Who Are The Greatest Pointillist Painters?
Seurat and Signac remain the greatest exponents of Pointillism. As well as them, the
Impressionist Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) was also an active member of the school, as
was Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910), and Maximilien Luce (1858-1941) who portrayed
industrial society and working-class scenes. Other artists associated with the idiom
include: the Fauvist leader Henri Matisse (1869-1954); Albert Dubois-Pillet (1846-90), a
self-taught artist who adapted Pointillism to landscape scenery and naturalist subjects;
Charles Agrand (1854-1926), who was more of a lyrical painter; Giuseppe Pelizza da
Volpedo (1868-1907), the leading Italian Pointillist; and Theo van Rysselberghe (18621926) the founder of Les Vingt, a group of progressive Post-Impressionists. Even Van Gogh
(1853-90) painted occasionally in a Pointillist style.
Famous Pointillist Paintings
The three most famous works of Pointillism are probably: Sunday Afternoon on the Island
of La Grande Jatte (1884-86, Art Institute of Chicago), and
Bathers at Asnieres (1884, National Gallery, London), both by Georges Seurat; and The
Papal Palace, Avignon (1900, Musee d'Orsay, Paris) by Paul Signac. Other notable examples
include the following:
Georges Seurat
The Suburbs (1882-83) Museum of Modern Art, Troyes
Fishing in The Seine (1883) Museum of Modern Art, Troyes
The Labourers (1883) National Gallery of Art Washington DC
Le Bec du Hoc, Grandcamp (1885) Tate, London
View of Fort Samson (1885) Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
The Models (1888) Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA
Grey weather, Grande Jatte (1888) Philadelphia Museum of Art
Eiffel Tower (1889) California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
Paul Signac
The Town Beach, Collioure (1887) Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City
The Jetty at Cassis (1889) Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City
Women at the Well (1892) Muse d'Orsay, Paris
The Port of Saint-Tropez (1901) The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo
Grand Canal, Venice (1905) Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio
Theo van Rysselberghe

Madame Maus (1890) Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

For other Dutch luminists, see: Post-Impressionism in Holland (1880-1920).
Henri-Edmond Cross
Nocturne (1896) Petit Palais, Geneva
Maximilien Luce
The Foundry (1899) Kroller-Muller Museum, The Netherlands
Camille Pissarro
Self-Portrait (1903) Tate, London
Henri Matisse
Luxe, Calme Et Volupte (1904-5) Musee d'Orsay