Abstract Answer: Further semantic obfuscation
12 June 2008 4 Comments
Er, clarification, let’s hope.
Let me clarify something I previously mentioned in this series. There has been some semantic confusion between Jones and I in the midst of our banter. This may be largely my fault, as I often use the terms abstract and non-representational interchangeably. Such goes against my own intention to communicate as clearly as possible. It’s little surprise that I do this, however; even Wikipedia and Dictionary.com are confused on this point, equating “abstract” and “non-representational.” Connotatively, abstract in the context of art means the same thing as non-representational.
With this in mind, a better definition for the clearest possible conversation among artists is the following from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary:
The act or process of leaving out of consideration one or more properties of a complex object so as to attend to others . . .
To further complicate matters, Jones refers to non-representational artwork as “non-objective.” They are essentially synonyms, but the latter isn’t a word I knew of until we began (more than a year ago now) this discourse. He explained his use of the phrase non-objective to me at some point in the past, but I was not remembering the explanation when I needed to this week.
I will now provide an example of an abstract work of art:
And an example of a non-representational, or non-objective, work of art:
Koons’ sculpture still looks like tulips, even though they are highly stylized, and sans stems. It is abstracted. Fujimura’s painting does not contain any recognizable objects and is therefore non-representational or non-objective.
Abstract and non-representational are different. They need to be kept different if we, as a culture, are going to be able to speak intelligently and clearly about the arts.