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Fr. 361

July 20, 2013

Impressionism and abstraction.

In its waning years, Impressionism came close to an abstract art of its own kind. It was abstract in the sense that, through breaking down sense impressions into smaller components, recognizable objects and the ability to recognize said objects are abstracted or subtracted from the visual field. This comes out strongly in Monet’s final works, for example his “Water Lilies” of 1914-1926 and his “Japanese Footbridge” of 1920-1922, where patches of red seem to have sprung full-grown and independent from an expression of the artist’s mind. Yet this abstraction is only an approximative, as the result is abstract(ed), but not the principle. It is only with abstraction proper and abstract expressionism that the abstract principle is attained, for the point of departure is not a reality to abstract or from which to abstract but the abstract itself, an imagination operating out of bounds and in free accord with itself, independent of a principle to be abstracted. Hence, the more concise resolution of distinction of the two: principle abstracted, abstract principle. It is in this vein of thinking that impressionism could be characterized as an abstraction which has not yet come to understand itself or as an inverted abstract operation, but not yet the full-fledged operation in itself.

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