The theme of this article focuses on aesthetic, or purely formalist art vs. metaphysical, or art with meaning. “There is no such thing as good painting about nothing.” Beginning with the question of truth and beauty, even early religious art depicting realistically rendered figures in a space is viewed as more humanist then religious. Newman goes as far as to say “total reality…can only manifest itself in the totally abstract, in which there is no trace or residue of the physical world…” This statement is compelling, considering the fact that our senses, particularly vision, are based heavily in previous perceptions. Before we experience something sensually, we have a preconceived notion of that feeling; realistic painting doesn’t capture reality, it captures our perception of reality.
Since the inception of photographic processes, there is less of a need to re- create visual information realistically. Despite the “real” or “truthful” notion of a photograph, it in itself is an isolated, flat picture plane, defined by its edges and containing only the information the lens angle can capture, and not even to the extent in which our eyes, being a double lens, can process. The Surrealists, for example, utilized mechanisms of automatism, in order to “instigate the operation of an intelligence beyond that of the individual mind.” In much the way a writer attempts to record pure manifestations of language faster then the ‘editing hand’ can catch up with them, automatic drawing attempts to capture pure visual language, before the brain intervenes with preconceived imagery and assumptions. Abstract painting is a way to detach from these preconceptions about space, and serves as a vehicle for inspiration in the physical creation of art.
All content sighted is derived from Metaphysical Feelings in Modern Art by Harold Rosenberg