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Lesson Plans

contemporary art-again

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Alyson (
22 Jul 1996 08:49:08 -0500

I have read with interest some of the thoughtful responses to Mr. McSwain's
post, and I feel the need to comment on a couple of things.
First, Abstract Expressionism was not the first movement to eliminate all
representation. The first totally abstract painting was created circa
1912-13-- about 35 years BEFORE Abstract Expressionism took hold. Abstract
Expressionists just took a more personal, emotional approach than the
scientific approach of their French predecessors.

Second, I often train docents on how to talk about abstraction with two key
points in mind: 1) Forget that painting has to be a "window on the world" -
who made up that rule, anyway? and 2) In order to appreciate abstraction, you
must be able to appreciate color, line, and shape for themselves. You may not
"get" the artist's complex, intellectual process, but you can still enjoy the
painting for itself. (This doesn't work as well with reproductions, so visit
your museums!)
Alyson B. Stanfield
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
The University of Oklahoma