Abstract vs. Representational Art – Definitions

Summary – I’m on tap to present a program on abstract photography in early March. This post is one of an indeterminate number to help me organize my thoughts. Today – what exactly is an abstract image?

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From representational to abstract

11-14-2013 5-33-55 PM

Center image of this transition might be a toss-up to some judges

IMO it’s an abstract

Lines, shapes & textures with no immediately recognizable subject

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Organizing my thoughts – a few definitions

Representational

Based on subjects found in the objective world

that can be named or recognized

Abstract

Geometric, formalized, or otherwise non-representational qualities

Non-representational

  • Natural objects that are not depicted realistically
  • Another word for abstract
  • Objects do not resemble those known in physical nature
  • Art without recognizable objects

Definition from a popular annual abstract exhibit

….abstracts are non-representational and do not rely upon recognizable subject matter, but rather consist of colors, tones, shapes and textures.  If the image has an obvious subject, it is not an abstract.

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Relevant quotes

Here are some thoughts by Joseph Miller
He’s forgotten more about abstract photography than
Most photographers have ever known
A true treasure (& the one who got me into this mess 😉 )
As payback, I’ll rely heavily on his wisdom
In preparing this program
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“There are two kinds of photography
Subject based and Design based
To my mind abstracts are design based”
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“There are two kinds of abstracts
Found or Created
The more difficult are found abstracts because
They require seeing
not just looking but seeing”
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“One must appreciate design in order to appreciate abstracts”
.
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Lastly
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
― Ansel Adams
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Truer words were never spoken when it comes to abstract photography
And no – not “….make….” as in Photoshop, rather
Made in your head & then in the camera
(Contrary to the view of a Google VP at the intro of
The latest Nik Collection when he inferred that using the NC
Is the type of “make” Adams meant – i.e. post-capture)

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2 thoughts on “Abstract vs. Representational Art – Definitions

  1. Hi Ed, many thanks for taking the time to write these posts and abstracts. I have had time today to catch up on your posts. I am trying to shoot images that are not record shots and your thoughts are well timed. Thanks Ray

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