Did you watch the clouds

pass by while laying on your back; enjoying the sensuousness of the experience ? 

When you appreciate a beautiful sunset or sunrise at the beach are you having a similar sensuous experience ? 

When you listen to a Symphonic work are you experiencing an Aural reality or are you experiencing an Abstraction ? 

Herbert Von Karajan Conducts Beethoven Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major ‘Eroica’, Op. 55 [24:31]

In each of these cases we have a sensuous experience that is NOT Representational. Oh ! but I’m seeing clouds or a Sunset, you say ! Yes, but what information are you receiving ? When you look at the clouds do you say, “That is a Cirrus Cloud or Cumulous Cloud ? or do you just appreciate its shape… maybe you do imagine the shapes to be things… 

It is this Sensuous Experience we must allow ourselves when looking at a Rothko or a Pollock. The Intellectual part comes in understanding the Nature of their work, its history, its rationale for existence. 

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952, 1952
212.09 x 488.95 cm
enamel and aluminium paint with glass on canvas
National Gallery of Australia
© Jackson Pollock, 1952/ARS. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2002


Mark Rothko
Red, Orange, Tan, and Purple, 1949
Oil on canvas 84 1/2 x 68 1/2 inches (214.5 x 174 cm)
Private collection
©1999 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

At its most basic Sense the Abstraction is an Existential Record of a moment in time for the artist who created it… we are given a glimpse into that moment in time. 


Jackson Pollock Painting by Hans Namuth circa 1950

This is not an explanation of ALL Abstractions… it is a description of how one can approach the problem of Viewing an Abstraction. One must be willing to have a Sensual Experience. 

“A Favourite Custom”, Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema 1909, Oil on wood, 66 x 46 cm, Tate Gallery, London.

Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema uses Metaphor in a different way, telling a story. Abstract Art tells a different story that begins with a sensuous experience and relies on our intelligence and imagination to discover the “meaning” of the work. 

Morris Louis, Alpha-Pi, acrylic on canvas 1960, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Joan Miró, Bleu I, 1962
270 X 355 cm
Oil on Canvas
Collection: Centre Georges Pompidou

Jon Schueler
Saraha, IV, 1973
65 x 72 inches
Oil on canvas

Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
High Cliff, Coast of Maine, 1894
Oil on Canvas 76.5 x 97.2cm (30 1/8 x 38 1/4 inches)
National Museum of American Art, Gift of William T. Evans


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