Cannon St

Whilst walking with Ari I was thinking about making photographic abstractions without buying into the old modernist baggage of wiping the slate clean. Lyle Rexer in The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography puts the baggage bit this way:

The definitions usually offered of abstraction in art (principally painting and sculpture) are tendentious; that is, they attempt to demonstrate that all art in a period defined as prior or premodern leads up to the disappearance of representation from the image, and more than that, that a particular form of abstraction posses the character of historical necessity. Among artists in the twentieth century, each approach promised to vanquish all other false, partial or mistaken directions. This rhetoric of liberation, purification, culmination, and transcendence is cognate with the notion of avant-gardes generally and the Hegelian idea of history it embodies.

Rexer is referring to the Cubists, Futurists, Neoplasticists, abstract expressionists, minimalists and the art critics Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried. The end of the line in art’s modernist evolution is the black painting of Art Reinhardt. Photography cannot wipe the slate clean as it is always a representation of something as well as being a sign that is interpreted for meaning. So abstract photography occupies a different visual space to modernist painting.

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