Expressiveness of Abstract Form

The topic of the expressiveness of abstract form bears some attention. One point that goes without saying and must be said anyway: “expression” does not refer to any statement of ideas or outflow of emotion from the artist, it’s an objective property of a work. The kind of thing described  in the previous post can only work as a syntax, as relations between parts, so to access the expressive potential of abstract art one has to stop short of the final reductions of modernism; the monochrome, however beautiful it may appear, is not going to work. The image must be articulated—so it may be more or less cubist or more or less flat. Nevertheless, “abstractness” is the farthest edge of what we can do, and to make it more abstract and less figurative is the brief, but the sense of a future depends on breaking free of the logic that led to the monochrome. To dig a little deeper, expressive works must be compositions, so we also have to ignore the logical appeal of the non-relational. Newman sits somewhere behind the monochrome, so he cannot be a source, nor Rothko.

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