From ü\Abstracting Thoughts from Abstraction. by Dore Ashton
(...) The genealogy of abstraction stretches back to the ancients, of course, but it was during the 19th century that the visual artists initiated their own inquiries using the diction of the period. It was Eugene Delacroix who taught CharIes Baudelaire to stand back from a painting in order to perceive its "musicality" divorced from its subject-matter. Baudelaire understood this "musicality" to be a form of abstraction, and almost, y but not quite, said so. He talked about "hieroglyphs", and, in a later comment, declared that form was something apart: "Form is not made up of molecules." Later in the century Henri Matisse's teacher, Gustave Moreau, after having noticed Delacroix's and Baudelaire's allusions to the "arabesque" -that is, the abstract nature of true paintingwrote in his journal: "Art is dead when, in the composition, the reasonable combination of mind and good sense come to replace in the artist the almost purely plastic imaginative conception -in a word, the Love of the Arabesque. " Shortly after, Gauguin flatly stated: "Art is an abstraction ". (...)
Abundant new theories from scientists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries fed into the burgeoning preoccupation with abstraction. Helmholtz's color theories tempered the discourse of painters, and his writings on sound had a deep impact on musicians. Edgard Varse always said it was Helmholtz's experiments with tuning forks with their microtones that inspired him, and he thought of his works as figures in space: "I want to make beautiful parabolas."
The painted abstractions stemming from Cubism were often discussed in terms of non-Euclidean geometry (although the painters themselves usually rejected a mathematical base in explanations of their striving.) It is significant that Kandinsky, often credited with painting the first abstraction, swerved from the conventional path, according to his own account, when he discovered the "disintegration of the atom" that, he said, struck him with an impact "comparable to that of the end of the world." For him, who inaugurated a wholly subjective strain of abstraction, "the mighty arches of science lay shattered before me." It was another Russian, however, whose ecstatic vision led him to envision "a world without objects", a world of pure space, a supernal world that for him would amount to a world of "pure feeling." Malevich sailed into the realm of purity -an idea that is surely an abstraction without looking back. Other Russians, including Rodchenko, whose photographs from heights and depths introduced new perspectives, literally, shared in this wild adventure in which the driving ideal was purity. They envisioned new spaces that they knew would engender new forms -forms that no longer depended, as Baudelaire had said, only on molecules. (The new adventure of aviation during the early years of modernism fuelled these extravagant dreams.)
Naturally, the visual art called photography was deeply affected by the thoughts of many experimental artists who had begun their flight into aesthetic freedom as painters. In general, the history of photographic aesthetics is identical with the history of modern art, with its various approaches (its "many mansions" , as deKooning once said about Rothko's work). (ů)
In practical terms, a slight modification is required here. When we look through the lens of a camera, we are always looking at something. The photographer more than the painter is always abstracting from, and yet, he abstracts ciphers of the visible that he has at least once experienced in the phenomenal world. Even if the photographer tells himself he is merely recording reality, he, like Malevich, Rodchenko and Lissitsky, is rooted in the modern world that had experienced, at least spiritually, the dis-integration of phenomenal thingness. (ů)
If, as I believe, abstraction is a lingua franca, it is still reserved for those willing to probe the very nature of perception and that, as we all know, is a subject that the philosophers and psychologists are still very busy trying to define. Herakleitos seemed to know about as much as a contemporary knows about perception, and he privileged the sense of sight "Eyes are better informers than ears." But he also knew some other things familiar to the modernist, such as "The most beautiful order of the world is still a random gathering of things insignificant in themselves," and "the unseen design of things is more harmonious than the seen." The will to abstraction, then, has a venerable history of which all the artists and poets in history have partaken.
Abstracting Thoughts from Abstraction - Dore Ashton From "Exit"
Magazine, Exit 14, Madrid 2004
The artists of this exhibition have different strategies. Johannes Franzen (born 1967, lives in Frankfurt) works digital, his photos are created by interventions in the Script of electronic images and refer to the basic structures of visual perception. Julian Faulhaber (born 1975, lives in Leipzig) changes mostly nothing, but with the cutting of the image he creates morphological forms, and to see the truth is in many of his works hard to see. Taiji Matsue (born 1963, lives in Tokyo) are based on direct photography, but it is still hard to see the reality behind, because of the distance in his works. Total different are the works by Irene Peschick (born 1937, lives in Kassel), the reality is gone, we just see - serial - forms.