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This book explores the relation of abstract art to nature. Traditional picturing and sculpture are based on conventions of resemblance between the work and that which it is a representation "of". Abstract works, in contrast, adopt alternative modes of visual representation, or break down and reconfigure the mimetic conventions of pictorial art and sculpture. Obviously this means that abstract art takes many different forms. However, this diversity should not mask some key structural features; these center on two basic relations to nature (understanding nature in the broadest sense â€œ to comprise the world of recognisable objects, creatures, organisms, processes, and states of affairs). The first involves abstracting fromnature, to give selected aspects of it a new and extremely unfamiliar appearance. The second involves abstract art as the affirmation of a relatively unconstrained natural creativity that issues in new, autonomousforms that are not constrained by mimetic conventions. (Such creativity is often attributed to the power of the unconscious.) The book contains three categories of essays: 1) those on classical modernism (Mondrian, Malevich, Kandinsky, Arp, early American abstraction), 2) those on post-war abstraction (Pollock, Still, Newman, Smithson, Noguchi, Arte Povera, Michaux, postmodern developments), and 3) those of a broader art historical and philosophical
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Life into Art: Nature Philosophy, the Life Sciences, and Abstract Art
Mondrian's First Diamond Composition: Spatial Totality and the Plane of the Starry Sky
Man, Space, and the Zero of Form: Kazimir Malevich's Suprematism and the Natural World
The Role of Mathematical Structure, Natural Form, and Pattern in the Art Theory of Wassily Kandinsky: The Quest for Order and Unity
"We want to produce like a plant that produces a fruit": Hans Arp and the "Nature Principle"
Natural Forces and Phenomena as Inspiration and Meaning in Early American Abstraction
Jackson Pollock: The Sin of Images
Clyfford Still's Regionalist Shamanism
"Man is Present": Barnett Newman's Search for the Experience of the Self
Nature, Entropy, and Robert Smithson's Utopian Vision of a Culture of Decay
Embodied Nature: Isamu Noguchi's Intetra Fountain
The Arte Povera Experience: Nature Re-Presented
Nature's Hand: Writing Abstraction in the Work of Henri Michaux
Abstract Art and Techno-Nature: The Postmodern Dimension
Art, Beauty, and the Sacred: Four Ways to Abstraction
The Complexities of "Abstracting" from Nature
Meaning in Abstract Art: From Ur-Nature to the Transperceptual
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