From the cubism of Picasso in the early part of the 20th century to the latest up-to-date showing at that avant-garde gallery in town, abstract art has been all about change. Purveyors of modern abstract art will take commissions, true, and hew to a set of instructions, yet the art that is for sale in galleries has a rich history of styles to choose from, fauvism and Dadaism and lyrical abstraction. The electronic methods of making art have not been neglected, as anyone who has ever attended a hologram display can attest.
Abstract art gained a new lease on life with the blossoming of electronic and robotic methods of expressing art. Form and color and texture combine in video abstraction as portrayed by the modern abstract artist Nam June Paik, the Korean-born artist who is said to have coined the phrase ‘Information Superhighway.’ Paik used media as they excited his interest, mastering one genre and then moving on to another. He has been called the first video artist, a natural progression from his artistic beginnings as a student of music. When he was inveigled by John Cage and other composers as well as conceptual artists to work in electronic art, he was more than ready to tackle another genre. He used both working and discarded television sets in his art, saying that he catered to the American admiration for ‘bright shiny things.’ Whether his art is sculpture or electronic is difficult to say, so fluid are his techniques.
Traditional art on canvas has not been forgotten in the last fifty years. If minimalism is defined as ‘multiple use of a single entity’, then abstract art contains minimalist elements, as pictured by the tightly-bound appearance of George Ortman’s works, perhaps the most famous being ‘Narcissus.’ ‘Narcissus’ may look like two diamond shapes whose tips touch surrealistically, but the geometrical quality of the flower is outstanding and the white discs inside the center of the rows of primary colored stripes, which make up the middle of the diamond shapes, take the naturalistic shape of a flower and glean the clean shapes from the curves. Ortman’s works use symbolism, not normally the case in abstract art, yet the meanings of his shapes are plain: a square equals intellect, a circle means sensuality and a triangle signifies ethics. His work has a tremendous moral and spiritual weight that feels authentic. Ortman has embraced abstract art in his artistic vision of minimalism and his use of primary colors is masterful.
Why not peruse the differing ranges of abstract art and find just the right genre for your taste? You may want to think out of the box or you may want the reassurance of quality that comes from a well-loved genre, but the piece of art on your wall will have a good home with someone who can think and learn about the fascinating steps that abstract art has taken lately. Abstract art on the computer is another genre, not something to hang on the wall, but to enjoy every time you boot up and visit your favorite museum site or individual artist’s gallery. Of course, if you are adventuresome, you may take a Photoshop tutorial or two on the internet and create your own art!