It is impossible to fully understand the tradition of painting without having some awareness of abstraction and its aesthetic effect. For many painters and lovers of painting, abstraction is painting purified, painting liberated from its long standing duty to always depict and instead freed to be about unbounded visual pleasure for its own sake.
Review the books discussion on abstraction. Here you are given a way to understand abstraction, as the free play of the sensa. The visual sensa are: line, color, texture, space, shape, light, shadow, volume (the appearance of three-dimensionality imagine a water glass with its rounded cylindrical shape), and mass (the appearance of three-dimensionality combined with weight and density-imagine the water glass filled with sand). Abstract pictures often cannot be fully understood through picture which they avoid, or at least complicate but they can always be understood and analyzed through discussion of their sensa.
Follow this link to some of the Metropolitan Museum of New Yorks collection of abstract art: Metropolitan Museum of Art (Links to an external site.)
As you explore the page, find a painting that speaks to you in some way. Be sure that the work is a painting and not a photograph or sculpture, which the page also includes (you can tell by clicking on the work and reading its description). After choosing a work, and identifying it by name and artist, do a short analysis of the piece through its sensa, listing the visual qualities of the work as they are communicated through the values listed above. Keep in mind that, although there will likely be no picture to discuss, the sensa do suggest meaningful ideas in and of themselves. For example, a line can look thin and weak and spindly, or jagged and aggressive; shapes may have mass and feel like they are crowding a canvas and making it feel claustrophobic; many colors have powerful suggestions, like yellow suggesting happiness, or red suggesting anger, passion, or love, depending on context. Be attentive to these suggestions as you do your analysis, and finally, use them to comment on what kind of emotional content the piece has, as best you can discover and describe it. Does the painting elicit any particular feeling in you? Does it seem to define or reveal anything? What drew you to it?
Posting should be 300 words, minimum.
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