The rich legacy of abstract/non-objective/non-referential art has, at times, been pushed aside, discarded or deemed irrelevant by “cultural dictators” who believe these art forms are antiquated, exhausted or insignificantly decorative. On the contrary, abstract based art is the most universal of all visual languages and the most liberated/liberating artistic expression for both artist and audience.
Kirk Varnedoe, art historian and former Curator of the Museum of Modern Art, commented in Pictures of Nothing (one of his epic published works) – “Abstract art has been with us in one form or another for almost a century now, and has proved to be not only a long-standing crux of cultural debate, but a self-renewing, vital tradition of creativity.” He continues, “This is one of abstraction’s singular qualities, the form of enrichment and alteration of experience denied to the fixed mimesis of known things.” Furthermore, he adds, “… the development of abstraction in the last fifty years suggests … a tradition of invention and interpretation that has become exceptionally refined and intricate.”
“… painting in general and abstract painting in particular, rather than being exhausted by what has come before, can in fact be nurtured by the astonishing array of references now available. The potential sources of inspiration are myriad, perhaps unfathomable. The complexity, density, and diversity of art give ample reason to understand why abstract painting has not dried up or withered away.” Gary Garrels, Curator of the Hammer Museum.
In summation, perhaps artist Arshile Gorky said it most succinctly, “Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes…. Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind … an exploration into unknown areas.”
Gary A. Bibb was born in Wichita, Kansas and studied architecture at Kansas State University but discovered art to be more compelling. He received his BFA in Visual Art from Emporia State University (Kansas). Most of his artistic career has been lived in Colorado and Southern California. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado.