The Elegance of Abstraction


Armand Cabrera


 The word abstraction as it pertains to representational art is the structure the finished painting is built on. I believe that representational paintings should have these qualities along with the subject matter of the idea depicted.

All great paintings have strong abstraction in their work that is never obliterated by too much rendering. This is not to say that you can’t render something and still have a strong under-painting, because you can. The best realists have strong non-objective qualities to their work. It is mediocre painters that use rendering and over-modeling of the forms to try and mask their inabilities as an artist.

A great painting should work on a number of levels and one of the most fundamental levels is the nonobjective beauty of its components. These are value pattern, design, color harmony and shape. These things do not depend on the representation of some thing to be beautiful. You often hear artists praised for just one of these fundamental elements and rarely all of them. Great artworks have a synergy of idea and application that work perfectly together showing no weak passages to deter from the overall effect.


The accompanying images are, in order of appearance, Harry Anderson, Hugh Bolton Jones, and Frederick Mulhaupt.


3 thoughts on “The Elegance of Abstraction

  1. Very stimulating post. I have struggled with accepting pure abstraction. To me it seems, at times, like the situation of the “Emporer’s Clothes.” Nobody seems willing to say it is just paint splattered on a canvas.Your comments and painting samples have created a link for me that I want to try.

  2. Joe,

    I’m with you on most abstract art, but I do believe that the kind of art we do should be beautiful on as many levels as we can make possible.


  3. hi!

    just a few words to says that i check regularly what’s going on your blog, and every post is stimulating to me.

    i feel like i share a lot of you visions about drawing, painting, an art in general. that’s why i wished to thank you for this blog site.

    best regards,

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