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[teacherartexchange] defining "abstract"

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From: Amy Broady (AmyBroady_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun May 21 2006 - 20:02:57 PDT


This'll be my third attempt to post this message--I know my first didn't go
through, and I have not seen my second go through either. If it's a
repeat--I apologize!

I have read with interest the messages about color theory. Thanks for a
thought-provoking discussion--I don't really have anything new or insightful
to add to it, but I have another question to spark some discussion:

How do you present the concept of "abstract" to your students?

I try to avoid lumping nonobjective (or nonrespresentational) artwork (i.e.
Pollack) into the "abstract" category because I want the kids to understand
that abstracting something does not mean eliminating all things that make an
object recognizable, and that an abstracted image requires great thought and
transformation/interpretation of subject matter.

It's hard to know where to draw the line, however. How do you know when a
painting crosses the line from being extremely abstracted to being
nonrespresentational? Kandinsky worked with both, right?

Is there a difference between "abstract art" and an image that is
"abstracted" by the artist?

How do YOU deal with these issues with your students? Do share!

Surely I'm not the only one who wrestles with this definition. I teach
elementary but when I taught high school this was also a topic of
interest/concern to me. At the high school I modeled my teaching after a
colleague who taught about the contiuum between the two extremes of
photorealsim and and completely nonrepresentational/nonobjective. (And is
there any difference between "nonobjective" and "nonrepresentational"?)
Everything in between is abstracted to a greater or lesser degree.

Thanks,
Amy in TN

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