A Study of Extremes: Why Some People Hate Abstract Art While Others Love It
Abstract paintings tend to elicit responses in viewers that fall toward one extreme side of the spectrum or the other. Some people embrace the freedom elicited by abstract art while others despise it, complaining that abstract paintings are just a bunch of childish, chaotic paint explosions that have no place in the world of credible art.
Abstract Art: The Journey Before the Product
In the manner of world famous abstract expressionism pioneers, Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky, abstract expressionism is more about the journey to completion and less about how the end product looks. The large-scale size of both of these artists' works supports this truth. Both Pollock's and Kandisky's abstract expressionism involved tons of planning because their masterpieces took the form of murals much larger than a standing human. Abstract expressionism is not, as its critics like to believe, about creating chaotic messes, but rather depicting energy and its movement, allowing energy to guide them organically and expressing emotions by feeling them while executing the artwork. Abstract expressionism is foregoing the need for technical perfection. The essence of the abstract painting is surrendering attention to form in favor of experience.
The Surrender of Artistic Discipline and Attention to Technique and Form
Those who discredit abstract art tend to believe that a masterpiece is the product presented to the viewer, not the evidence of the journey to create it. Abstract art lacks linear representation of anything realistic. Critics of abstract paintings argue that a child could have produced the works that become famous. They argue that abstract expressionism undermines the technical training that many artists spend years pursuing and financing for the sake of their trade. The carefully trained eye and selective disciplinarian finds abstract art a savage abuse of the care and precision that go into other forms of painting.
Complexity in Simplicity, or Not?
Some abstract paintings are intentionally simplistic to the point where critics doubt the integrity and effort put forth by the artist. Take for example, an abstract painting that appears to be nothing more than a couple of red squares drawn on a plain blue background. Critics see honoring this as a cop-out, a feeble attempt to imply more meaning and depth than the artist is actually capable of expressing. On the contrary, fans of abstract paintings see the piece as a complex commentary, a minimalistic approach to expression with many layers. According to supporters, abstraction takes away the constraints of technique and form, leaving the viewer with only the most important expressive elements. Abstract art streamlines the information offered, allowing the viewers' minds to stretch, formulating the details as he or she sees fit.
The Value of Open Interpretation
Some abstract artists take their viewers on a journey similar to choosing your own adventure. In creating abstract paintings, artists set the stage for the journey and then leave the rest of the story up to viewers. For example, take a piece with a mostly blue and purple, white-dotted background and a bold spill of lime green in the center titled "Alien invasion." The title allows viewers to use their imagination as to how the piece depicts an alien invasion.
Abstract Expressionism is Here to Stay
While abstract art, like all techniques, will always have its critics, it is vital a part of art history.