Abstraction

Selective Elimination:


Selective elimination as formal or structural factors intentionally altered or removed. Often several may be indentified in a single work.



Suggestion of Three-Dimensional Space may be replaced by isometric or absent perspective, adjacent, non-overlapping shapes; flat, non-modulated tones.

Jacob Lawrence. Self-Portrait.
1977, Gouache on paper. 23 x 31 ins.



Henri Matisse. Ivy in Flower, 1953. Collage 112 x 112 ins. Courtesy: The Dallas Museum of Art



Full Palette Color may be replaced by a limited palette such as primary color, black and white, or close-value monochromatic harmony.




Pablo Picasso, The Tragedy, 1903, oil on wood, 105.3 x 69 cm (41 7/16 x 27 3/16 in.)
Chester Dale Collection © 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.



Single-Focus Point of View
may be replaced by multiple viewpoints or combined partial views.


Juan Gris. The Siphon. 1913. Oil on canvas. 32 x 23 ins. Courtesy: Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts.




Robert Delaunay. The Eiffel Tower, 1910-11. Oil on canvas. Courtesy: Kunstmuseum. Basel.




Opaque, Solid Depiction of Objects may be replaced by transparent or X-ray views.


Nick Veasey
X-Dali. March 2012
C-Type Print. 1189 x 1189mm (47 x 47"). Edition of 5





Complete Rendition of Natural Details may be replaced by elimination of details and simplification of form to basic geometric or biomorphic shape.



Jacques Lipchitz (French, 1891–1973)
Study for the Minotaur. 1939. Ink Drawing and watercolor
h: 10.2 x w: 8.2 in / h: 25.9 x w: 20.8 cm




Jean (Hans) Arp
Overturned Blue Shoe with Two Heels Under a Black Vault. 1925.
Painted wood, 31 1/4 × 41 1/8 inches. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation



Sophistication, or skilled technical finish, use of correct proportion and anatomy may be replaced by "primitive" or naive exaggeration, childlike lack of proportion or technique, sometimes stick-like simplification.



Keith Haring
DJ. 1983. Ink on Paper. 18 1/2 x 25 inches.



Jean Dubuffet
The Cow with a Subtile Nose, 1954
Oil and enamel on canvas
35x45 3/4 in. (88.9 x 116.1 cm.)



Curvilinear Form may be reduced to intersecting perpendiculars or other angular linear transitions.



Piet Mondrian. Dune Landscape. 1910-11. Oil on canvas. 141 x 239 cm.





Pablo Picasso. Ma Jolie. 1911-1912. Oil on canvas. 39 3/8 x 25 3/4 inches



Specific Details Identifying an Individual may be replaced by a general type or symbol.



Fernand Leger. Les grands plonguers noirs (The Big Black Divers). 1944. Oil on canvas.



Rene Magritte. The Finery of the Storm. 1927. 116 x 81 cm





Presentation of Forms in Their Expected Spatial Environment may be modified by a distortion of the spatial dimension, bending of the visual plane or individual objects.






Charles Sheeler. Church Street El. Oil on canvas. h:16 1/8 w:19 1/16 inches. 1920.



Emphasis on the Subject with reduced concern for forms around it, may be replaced by a more equal figure/ground relationship or elimination of the idea of negative space.



George Braque. Houses in L'Estaque. Oil on canvas. 28 1/4 x 23 3/8 inches. 1908.


Paul Cézanne. Rocks above the Caves at Chateau Noir.1899. oil on canvas. 65 x 54 cm. Repository: Musée d'Orsay



Decorative Surface Adornment may be reduced or eliminated in favor of structural description alone.

Theo van Doesburg, Aesthetic Transformation of an Object (The Cow), 1916





final transformation (detail)





Realistic Modulation of Tonal Values, Chiaroscuro or Shading may be replaced by the arbitrary application of light and dark, arternate shading, or elimination of an indicated light source.



Juan Gris. Glass, Siphon and Checkerboard, 1917. Charcoal, with stumping on cream laid paper. 470 x 310 mm.



Juan Gris. Head of a Man with Cigar, c. 1912. Charcoal, with stray white gouache on tan laid paper. 429 x 280 mm.



Capturing of Chance Nuance of Form and Surface may be replaced or minimized in favor of elimination of the accidental and reduction to the general or average.


Tomb painting. The British Museum. Rectangular fragment (one of three) of a polychrome tomb-painting representing a banquet scene, divided into two registers: upper - three seated couples are attended by serving women and boys; lower - a group of women, seated apart from the men, are attended by a standing serving woman.



Pablo Picasso. The Bull, (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th State), 1946. Lithograph on Arches paper.



Precise Depiction of Observed Detail may be replaced by freely expressed suggestion, a sketchy or calligraphic response to a subject or idea, communication of feelings about a subject or idea, symbolic or personal interpretations of a theme, often without clearly delineated shapes, separable areas or distinct edges.



Willem de Kooning. Woman I. 1950. Oil on canvas. 64 x 46 inches. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.



Helen Frankenthaler. Jacob's Ladder. 1957. Oil on canvas. 9 foot 5 3/8 inches x 69 7/8 inches.



Showing the Entire Subject in an Environment
with an amount of space around it, may be replaced by a close-up, cropped portion of the subject.



Georgia O'Keeffe. The Black Iris. 1926. Oil on Canvas. 9 x 7 inches.



Bill Brandt. Nude London PP07. 1958. Photograph. 30 x 40 inches



Separation of an Object from its Environment may be replaced by a camouflage effect, concealing the edge of form using close values and colors or similar patterns.



Jean Metzinger. Tea Time. 1911. Oil on Cardboard. 29 7/8 x 27 5/8 inches.




Francis Bacon. Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud. 1964. Oil on canvas. Three part, each 14 in. x 11 7/8 in.




Design Dimensions: An Introduction to the Visual Surface
by Cynthia Maris Dantzic, pp. 149-152