Tag Archives: Abstract

FROM THE VAULT | Concerning the Spiritual in Art

Spirtual_in_Art_CoverFROM THE VAULT
Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky

“It is the conviction that nothing mysterious can ever happen in our everyday life that has destroyed the joy of abstract thought.”

Students and aspiring artists will find the entirety of Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky a fascinating read. Throughout, Kandinsky attempts to lay out a theory of art through analogy to the composition of music. In doing so, Kandinsky is explicitly seeking to promote the inner expression or spirituality of the artist in the creation of a truly abstract art. For architects, urban designers, and urban planners, it is likely that they will find particular sections of Concerning the Spiritual in Art more useful to their own area of interest than others in the book; in particular, page 21-45 on the psychological effect and language/form of color. As might be expected from an artist of Kandinsky’s standing, he has some very interesting and insightful ideas about the use and mixture of colors in composition. It seems like some of these ideas might prove useful application in the built environment, especially for those who find themselves constrained in an oppressive world of beige. Certainly, the use of color in the built environment appears to be a poorly understood subject, especially in the United States. It couldn’t hurt for some professionals to better understand the topic.

Vassily-KandinskyAbout Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky (December  16, 1866 – December 13, 1944) was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting one of the first purely abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa, where he graduated from Grekov Odessa Art school. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics. Successful in his profession, he was offered a professorship (Chair of Roman Law) at the University of Dorpat. Kandinsky began painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30. In 1896, Kandinsky settled in Munich, studying first at Anton Ažbe’s private school and then at the Academy of Fine Arts. He returned to Moscow in 1914 after the outbreak of World War I. Kandinsky was unsympathetic to the official theories on art in Communist Moscow and returned to Germany in 1921. He taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture from 1922 until the Nazis closed the school in 1933. He then moved to France, where he lived for the rest of his life, becoming a French citizen in 1939 and producing some of his most prominent art (Source: Wikipedia).

Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky
Paperback (76 pages), English
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 11, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-1453627426
ISBN-10: 1453627421

You can purchase Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky on Amazon here.

From the Vault is a series from the Outlaw Urbanist in which we review art, architectural and urban design texts, with an emphasis on the obscure and forgotten, found in second-hand bookstores.

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Algorithmic Space | The City in Art

Don Relyea’s Cityscape with Helipads and Ladders (2011), www.donrelyea.com.

“They don’t know what you’re doing, Babe, it must be art.”
– Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, U2

Algorithmic Space | The City in Art
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A

Don Relyea’s Cityscape with Helipads and Ladders (2011) uses an algorithm based on the Hilbert space filling curve, discovered by mathematician David Hilbert. The version of Relyea’s program subdivides spaces within the total space to be filled and runs the algorithm to fill the smaller spaces separately. Each smaller space is centered on a point on the curve causing the smaller renderings to intersect the larger one in interesting ways. The program recursively draws rectangles along the curve. At certain times during the execution, it draws larger concentric rectangles and connects special points with trailed concentric rectangles (Source: www.donrelyea.com).

I am not even going to pretend to understand the mathematics of what Relyea is describing, except in only the vaguest sense. I’m sure Dr. Nick “Sheep” Dalton and Dr. Ruth Conroy Dalton would understand the mathematics of Relyea’s generative algorithm, and I will get them to explain it to me the next time I see them. For those interested in the mathematics of the algorithm, there is more information available here. However, purely in terms of art, Relyea’s generative algorithm appears to capture something of the “organized complexity” of the city, which is, no doubt, why Relyea decided to appropriately title his computer-generated art series as “cityscapes”. In addition to this generative complexity, Relyea’s prints also capture something of the repetitiveness of city space, which Relyea varies through his use of color (see the entire series to date here). It is suggestive there are more practical applications for his generative algorithm in urban modeling and science, beyond that of generating complex shapes for artistic reasons. However, based purely on artistic terms, the result is a compelling abstract image of repetitive complexity.

About Don Relyea
Don Relyea graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1992, where he was a print making major and information systems major and a merit scholarship student. He lives and works in Dallas Texas USA with his wife and three kids. Upon graduation, Relyea immersed himself in the multimedia software industry producing video and interactive CD content and eventually games for publishers and clients. In the multimedia industry, he developed a love for programming graphics on computers and now produces art in several media both traditional and digital. Relyea focuses in the area of computational art. He writes his own custom art software in C++ and Open GL. Many of the programming techniques Relyea learned in game development he now employs with his art, primarily producing prints and video art. He often weaves cultural, social and political dimensions into his work. Nature and mathematical forms are also common subjects. His print and video work have been in exhibited in galleries and juried exhibitions all over the United States. Recently, Relyea’s video art has been installed outdoors in curated/juried shows in Oslo, Norway, The Hague, the Digital Graffiti Festival at Alys Beach Florida, W hotel in Seoul Korea and International Free Exchange Zone in Incheon Korea (Source: www.donrelyea.com).

The City in Art is a series by The Outlaw Urbanist. The purpose is to present and discuss artistic depictions of the city that can help us, as professionals, learn to better see the city in ways that are invisible to others. Before the 20th century, most artistic representations of the city broadly fell into, more or less, three categories: literalism, pastoral romanticism, and impressionism, or some variation thereof. Generally, these artistic representations of the city lack a certain amount of substantive interest for the modern world. The City in Art series places particular emphasis on art and photography from the dawn of the 20th century to the present day.

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Buildings in Motion | The City in Art

Rejcel Harbert’s The Blue City (2012), 22″ x 28″, acrylic on stretched canvas, private collection.

Buildings in Motion | The City in Art
By Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A

The city is always in motion. Generally, this statement is understood by professionals to refer to movement through urban space at street level (pedestrians, automobiles, and so forth) and/or the outward physical growth of the city in plan. However, the city is also – and always – in motion at its vertical dimension. It is not merely the movement of people and things vertically across interior elevations (such as elevators) but the buildings themselves move and, metaphorically speaking, grow. A structural engineer understands the need to account for wind shear in building structures, especially the taller the building. Anyone who has worked in and/or visited a skyscraper will have probably experienced the phenomenon of wind shear motion in that building, if only on a barely perceptible level. However, in a metaphorical sense, the buildings of the city are also ‘growing’ as new and higher buildings are erected over time. Harbert paints the buildings much like trees bending against a strong wind, providing a counter-motion horizontally, but also sprouting ever-upwards in a counter-motion against gravity associated with the plane of the ground. In The Blue City (2012), the ground plane is not represented by the solidity of terra firma but the fluidity of a nurturing water, which anchors the buildings much like water feeding the roots of trees. This gives the abstraction a dynamic and organic quality not normally associated with the vertical dimension of the city.

There is an eternal attribute about the city that Harbert captures in depicting a waterfront city at dusk. The onset of dusk is indicated both by the colors of the painting’s background and the use of white in representing the internal lights of the buildings, much in the same way as Georgia O’Keefe’s Radiator Building-Night, New York (1927). In The Blue City, the lights of the city buildings are abstractly reflected in the water at the base of the painting. There is a vibrancy of color contrasted between the upper (reds, browns, and greens) and lower portions (blues, whites, and greens) of the painting. The Blue City reminds us in an abstracted form that the city is always in motion in every dimension (length, width, breadth – the horizontal and vertical – and time itself). In this sense, Harbert captures something about the eternal dynamic of motion in the city. When it comes to the existential being of the city, we may not see it from afar – for example, as we gaze at the skyline of a city – but motion is an essential fact of the thing itself.

BIAS ALERT: I own this painting. I love it so much that I bought it for my private collection. Rejcel usually writes a short description of her paintings on www.rejcel.com but she has not done so for The Blue City. However, when I purchased the painting in 2012, I do recall her telling me the image for The Blue City came to her after a dream.

About Rejcel Harbert
Rejcel Harbert has over eight years of experience as the owner of Art by Rejcel, where she sells photographic services, paintings, and abstract and expressionistic acrylic arts. She received her bachelor of arts in business, economics, and Spanish from Jacksonville University in 2001. She is a member of the Business Fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, the Honor Society Phi Kappa Phi, and received an award from the Women’s Business Organization for Achievement. Ms. Harbert does religious volunteer work including construction and repair work for community members in need. For more information on Art by Rejcel, visit www.rejcel.com.

The City in Art is a series by The Outlaw Urbanist. The purpose is to present and discuss artistic depictions of the city that can help us, as professionals, learn to better see the city in ways that are invisible to others. Before the 20th century, most artistic representations of the city broadly fell into, more or less, three categories: literalism, pastoral romanticism, and impressionism, or some variation thereof. Generally, these artistic representations of the city lack a certain amount of substantive interest for the modern world. The City in Art series places particular emphasis on art and photography from the dawn of the 20th century to the present day.

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