If you've just stumbled onto this blog, please forgive the appearance; it's still under construction. If I've used one of your photos (found on Google) in a lecture and you don't approve, please write a comment and I'll remove it.

The purpose of this blog is to explain the basics of art and culture to English language learners in secondary school in Slovakia. This is not for profit. If you look to your right, you'll see a long list of topics that I plan to cover. This is a large project that will most likely take years to complete, covering some topics I know little about (like dance), so I will be borrowing heavily from other experts, with their permission, giving credit wherever possible. Please be patient, and, of course, all advice is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Abstraction is the opposite of realism. It's when an artist loses interest in realism, wanting to distort (deformovať) what he sees to better describe how he feels about a subject. There are different levels of abstraction.

Impressionism is slightly abstract. The details don't matter, only the colours:

Apple Trees on Chantemesle Hill, Claude Monet, Impressionist

Expressionism is more about describing the emotional impact of a subject - how it feels, rather than how it looks:

Starry Night, by Vincent Van Gogh, Post-Impressionist, the start of Expressionism

Rain, by Franz Marc, Expressionist

Primativism was about painting without all the lessons and realism of academia - to see through a child's eyes. The idea is it would be more honest.

Three Tahitians, by Paul Gauguin, early Primitivist

Look at the girl on the left. You'd have to break her neck to get her to turn her head in just that position. Any academic professor would say, "Do it over!" But Gauguin would say it's just the way he wanted it. It feels right.

Cubism is a form of Expressionism about the emotional impact of taking the familiar everyday world, and breaking it up into little puzzle pieces. The idea is, look again, you don't know it as well as you think you do:

Guitar Player, by Pablo Picasso, Cubist
There's a guitar player in there somewhere. See if you can find him.

Surrealism is about interpreting dreams, emphasizing that reality is just an illusion - it's a product of your mind. Everyone's 'reality' is different:

Paranoia, by Salvador Dalí, Surrealist

Abstract Expressionism is non-representational, meaning there's no hidden image anymore, only a representation of pure emotion. This style started in New York, so American art museums are really proud of it:

Blue Poles, by Jackson Pollock, Abstract Expressionist
What do you think this painting says about his emotions?

Minimalism explores the emotional impact (if any) in a couple simple geometric shapes and colours. It's supposed to be profound (hlboký dojem). I find it depressing. Minimalism is said to be the final stage of modernism - a running out of ideas:

Minimal Myth, by Donald Judd, Minimalist

All Art Is Abstract:
Illustrators like to point out how realist art can contain all the same energy and gesture as abstract. The following pictures are details of an illustration painted by Joe De Mers. This was originally posted online by David Apatoff on his blog:

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