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Re: [teacherartexchange] defining "abstract"


From: Amy Broady (AmyBroady_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu May 25 2006 - 17:46:45 PDT

Thank you, Maggie and Jeryl!

I really appreciate both of your suggestions, and both are artists that I'm
sure my students will respond well to. Maggie, I got a photo of the
realistic Mondrian at the Chicago Art Institute while I was at convention
(do you know the one I mean--a farmhouse and some trees?). Then, on my walk
back to the Hilton, I noticed the bare trees at one end of the Art Institute
and took a photo. They really resembled the trees in the Mondrian
painting--it was a neat moment.

Jeryl, I love how you present the concept, too. I did a great Georgia
O'Keefe project with me 2nd graders earlier this year--I will have to send
you the details. And I will use your idea to do a follow-up Georgia project
with them next year.

Today was the last day for the students--a half day. Tomorrow is the last
day for us teachers, and I have to check out by 1:30--I've got a plane to
catch! Tonight I am frantically trying to do all the laundry that has been
building up and pack.

I hope to be more active in the group over the summer than I have been these
past few months--it will be nice to have a break from the daily teaching
routine and get refreshed. I have so many ideas I want to develop for next
year. And a very dusty, messy house I can't wait to get clean and organized!

Have a great Holiday weekend, and thanks again for responding to my post!
Amy in TN

----- Original Message -----
From: "Maggie White" <>
To: "TeacherArtExchange Discussion Group"
Sent: Monday, May 22, 2006 12:21 AM
Subject: Re: [teacherartexchange] defining "abstract"

> Amy,
> I used to teach this very thing in my HS classes. The students worked
> with one ordinary object through four phases: realistic, stylized,
> abstract, and nonobjective. I used Mondrian's work as an example; he was
> once a realistic painter of landscapes and single trees, whose work became
> more abstracted and finally nonobjective. The students could see the
> progression in the slides. Lichtenstein did something similar, but in a
> focused way (meaning, he was deliberately taking the object through the
> different phases); his object was a goldfish bowl. Another artist, whose
> name escapes me at the moment, did the same thing with a cow as subject
> matter. I think if you can show your students the progression an artist
> makes, they will understand the concept.
> I think you are on the right track with your explanations. I defined
> "abstract" for the students (okay, Marvin, I know YOU would have the
> students come up with a definition, and rightly so) as: the elements of
> the object are severely distorted, broken down ("cut apart") and
> rearranged. Some recognizable elements still remain. Nonobjective: the
> object's elements are completely distorted and rearranged so no
> recognizable elements remain.
> If it would help, I could send you part of a presentation I gave on the
> way I handled this lesson.
> Maggie
> Amy Broady wrote:
>> 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?
> ---
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