This blog is getting complex, and though I’m glad to be getting comments on older posts I’m also afraid that some good moments will be lost because of the very nature of a blog, which is that it is always moving. One way I look at it is as set of notes toward a possible book, but as a blog the book is written in order but read backwards, creating a new kind of anxiety for authors, and maybe a new kind of frustration for readers. So what I want to start thinking about is a contents page.
I don’t believe in theory, so I try to talk about real and concrete problems in abstraction. These “problems” are mainly what have appeared in my own work. Problems is not necessarily the right word; questions might be as good, opportunities or possibilities likewise. An early topic brought up on this blog was the grid, for me the convention most in need of critique. So-called “flatness” might be another one, but I haven’t had much to say about space so far. Then there is the broad question of what and how abstractions mean, and this one has been taken up in a series of more concrete topics. From a post at the end of December last year up until the present there has been a long discussion about the role of literature, including thoughts on titles, backstories, and captions explicit and implicit. (This sequence was interrupted by about four posts on De Kooning and Pollock in New York.) Also entangled in this subject were earlier treatments of two artists, Robert Motherwell and R.H.Quaytman. Coming out of the Quaytman topic as well are thoughts on the series. Another subject of painful relevance to practicioners is the arbitrariness of abstract form. This I discussed through the work of Motherwell and Gerhard Richter. Going further on that subject are some posts on the conceptuality of abstract painting, which necessarily brings up thoughts about the relation between painting and conceptual art. That’s one of the main categories of the blog, but the more specific matter of how painting has rendered itself conceptual comes up in some remarks on Louis and Fontana. Another major theme, which has to be taken up again, is what abstract art has to do with nature. That was the topic of the very first post, and has recurred several times since.
This is not complete, but I’m not sure whether I want to clarify the shape of the blog for my own sake or the sake of my readers. Probably both, if the “note cards” are going to be useful at all one day.