by Thomas Hawk
Learning To Appreciate Modern Abstract Art
Modern abstract art holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many people. To the uninitiated, it appears like any second grader could do what, in fact, only a real artist can master. There is a tendency for some to understate the real insight and technical skill that is required by an abstract artist. I once overheard someone in a gallery comment on a piece they were looking at, that they couldn’t believe how stupid it was that people would “put out good money for a piece of crap like that”. I held my tongue because I remembered how it was only a very short time before that that I had uttered equally inane blather. I knew that this person just didn’t know better, that they hadn’t bothered to learn about this beautiful form of art.
An abstraction is something that is not meant to be an exact representative of reality. It is not a detailed depiction. It is, rather, a disassociation of sorts. It can be difficult to tease out meaning from the metaphysical. It is sometimes insufficient or even impersonal. It can be detached and cold. On the other hand, modern abstract art can also be quite warm and personal, uniquely and deeply emotionally satisfying. It can bind us to a greater understanding of who we are, what our lives mean, and where we fit in the bigger picture. It is the very abstraction that allows the mind to fill in the blanks, to find meaning where none is intended. It is only when the viewer slows down enough to really contemplate the impact of the abstraction that meanings begin to emerge.
I have often thought how funny the stereotypical gallery attendee is portrayed. Black turtle neck sweaters for the guys, little black dresses for the girls, sun glasses on indoors (I never did understand this one), a chic haircut with bangs swept across the brow, that far away contemplative look in their expressions, the presumption of importance and insight, an occasional sputtering of little comments about the way the lines flow, or the color works. These people crack me up. Are they even for real? I suppose they are somewhere, but in the real world you find people from all walks of life being drawn to art galleries in search of connection and meaning.
I’m just a simple small town citizen, but I learned to appreciate modern abstract art by giving myself a chance to be around it and the artists who create it. Perhaps the best recommendation I could give anyone desiring to more fully appreciate this form of art is to attend an open house or a special night for the artist at an art gallery. Being able to spend even just a few minutes with the artist will open your eyes in ways that reading about the art never can. When you feel the emotional ties and the very real connectedness that most artists have with not only the work, but with the people they hope to touch, you will start to learn for yourself what a special thing modern abstract art really is. You will learn that it has more to do with the effect than with the cause.
You can enjoy some modern abstract art online at Fairhaven Originals Gallery (FOG).