On Abstract Art
As a definition of abstract art, especially in photography, I tend to favor the following:
From Rudolph Arnheim, Visual Thinking: "Abstract art uses a visual language of shape, form, color, texture, and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world."
Abstraction indicates a departure from reality in the depiction of imagery in art. Such departure can be slight, partial, or complete. Abstraction exists along a continuum and can be loosely divided into two categories: geometric abstraction and lyrical abstraction. In geometric abstraction, one is unlikely to find references to naturalistic entities. However, pure geometric shapes that were essential to Suprematist painters such as Malevich or De Stijl artists like Mondrian can be found lurking in chaotic natural or manmade environments. Lyrical abstractions on the other hand -as in figurative and representational or realistic art- can contain abstraction along the entire continuum.
New York-based writer and critic Lyle Rexer wrote in The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography: "Our tendency is to make something of the photograph, to try to say immediately what it means and how it works and why it is made. But these images [abstractions] are more disjunctive than that, and often frustrate our impulses. It's a tough sell when you are not showing people what's familiar to them."