Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reviews: "Point and Line to Plane" and "Abstraction in Art and Nature"

These two books take diametrically opposite, and supplementary approaches.
Point and Line to Plane is primarily a priori and Abstraction in Art and Nature a posteriori. They benefit from being read together.

Abstraction in Art and NatureAbstraction in Art and Nature by Nathan Cabot Hale

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Read alongside Point and Line to Plane.

Unlike Point and Line to Plane, this derives formal relationship through observation, knowledge and analogy and applies them. This is more of a workbook or a reference book, I therefore skimmed it (I didn't do the exercises.)

The "abstraction" in the title is deceptive, as the primary emphasis is on the way that abstract forms inform the observation and representation of nature, although it may also prove valuable to those who work in "purer" abstract forms.



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Point and Line to Plane (Dover Books on Art History)Point and Line to Plane by Wassily Kandinsky

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Read alongside Abstraction in Art and Nature. These two books take diametrically opposite, and supplementary approaches.

Unlike Abstraction in Art and Nature , this derives formal relationship through a quasi-axiomatic method, using the most elementary visual primitives. Kandinsky attempts to derive and relate intuitive and emotional responses to these forms. He generally does not use examples from the "material realm".

This may be off putting to artists who never work with, say, triangles or straight lines, or those whose approach is entirely intuitive.

I think its strength lies in the way it looks at correspondences and analogies between colors, diagonals, clusters of points and so on. For example, yellow is a "hotter" and "sharper" color than blue, and a triangle is a "sharper" and "hotter" shape than a circle. So in a composition, a triangular shape can be augmented by coloring it yellow, and given a softened, and mixed character by coloring it blue. So you can use awareness of these kinds of correspondences to vary the emotional and compositional characteristics of a visual work.


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