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My Top 10 Abstract Artist Quotes in 2021

Cat. No. 1363 San Simeone Piccolo, Venice, Italy - 14cm x 14cm - Oil on Canvas - 2020

My Top Ten Quotes by Abstract Artists

“The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real.

— Lucien Freud

“Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was.

— Jackson Pollock

It is true that abstract painting sometimes can take a while to understand. But only good abstract painting can be understood. I never appreciated Pollack’s work until I sat down on a sofa in the Guggenheim Museum in Venice and decided to give myself at least 15 minutes to stare at one of his paintings and see if my first impression, that it was just a mess of paint, was wrong. The painting was a very large canvas covered with lots small black and white shapes. For a while nothing happened. Then after 10 minutes I started to imagine I was perhaps looking at streets and buildings. I thought I could see streets appearing and disappearing, buildings coming into view and then getting lost in the maze of a city. I went up to the painting to see what it was called:

After that I learned to give a painting time, just like it takes time to learn how to appreciate a good symphony. But I think that Pollack was the end of an era, when artists did have some knowledge about painting and strove to create something artistically worthwhile. I can’t say I like all of his work, but it does have some quality. That quality derives from its underlying structure which is not at all random. Later I discovered that his method of working was a movement known as a kick pendulum, which produces a pattern that has some underlying mathematical structure. Structure is what is at the heart of all good art. Pollack probably didn’t know what he was doing, but by chance his working method created something that creates an interesting work of art, even if it does take a while to appreciate.

After his era, painting degenerated. You could sit for two hours and look at the work of Jasper Johns and others that came later, and still just see a not very well designed pattern. That’s when art started to be mostly b******t.

“In every landscape should reside jewels of abstract art waiting to be discovered.

— Melissa Brown

Never was uttered a truer word. This is the essence of landscape painting.

Abstract art was the equivalent of poetic expression; I didn’t need to use words, but colors and lines. I didn’t need to belong to a language-oriented culture but to an open form of expression.

— Etel Adnan

I would say that abstract art is closer to the equivalent of musical expression. Good abstract work contains rhythms, harmonies, intervals, transitions, repetitions, variety, unity. All those are characteristics of music. Poetry is the realm of stories, emotions and feelings. You don’t get much of that from an abstract painting. It’s just interesting to look at.

Abstract understanding doesn’t mean arbitrary sloshing and messing. Abstract art is controlled visual magic based on laws and methodology. Abstraction generally involves implication, suggestion and mystery rather that obvious description. Like a good poem, a good abstraction attacks your feelings before your understanding. Abstraction within realism adds zest and excitement to otherwise dull subject matter. Abstract understanding takes time and patience.

— Robert Genn

Nicely said Robert!

“Abstract means literally to draw from or separate. In this sense every artist is abstract for he must create his own work from his visual impressions. A realistic or non-objective approach makes no difference. The result is what counts.

— Richard Diebenkhorn

Diebenkorn was an expert in space division in a painting. You can learn an awful lot about good landscape painting by looking at his mid career work. The later stuff was a bit boring.

The more horrifying the world becomes, the more art becomes abstract.

— Paul Klee

Even abstract shapes must have a likeness.

— Willem de Kooning

Do not copy nature too much. Art is an abstraction.

— Paul Gaugin

I am not an abstractionist… .I am not interested in the relationships of color or form or anything else… .I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on.

— Mark Rothko

Well, with all due respect, I think you failed Mr Rothko. I didn’t feel any of those emotions when I spent an hour in a room of your red paintings. They did not touch on any emotions because you had no idea of the subject, so how could they affect our emotions?

But I did find them a fascinating arrangements of shapes, edges, transitions, that were somewhat suggestive of landscapes or light playing in a space. It was very enjoyable just sitting in front of one of your paintings and letting your imagination wander. But it was hard work really.

So you succeeded in doing what you were not interested in, and failed in doing what you were interested in. Or you just said that to the media and did not mean it.

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