Representationalism In Art

En son güncellendiği tarih: Eyl 7

How do we know if something is art? Does art has to represent something? Apparently, it’s art if it is about something. That is also the definition of the representational theory of art. The roots of the representational theory, date all the way back to ancient Greece, to the imitation theory. In such theory, art is to imitate nature in its most impeccable forms. However the theorists revised the imitation theory, claiming that the scope of art is not to rigorously imitate nature, but to represent it in any form.

In point of fact, the definition of “representationalism” according to Merriam Webster is “the doctrine that the immediate object of knowledge is an idea in the mind distinct from the external object which is the occasion of perception”. All the same, representationalism in art usually refers to images that are obviously cognisable for what they appear to be; for example a flower in a landscape, a pear in a still life, or a figure in a portrait. In representational art, such imageries need not to be true to life: A banana does not have to be in yellow. The most important thing in representational art is that the object can be defined as a banana.

The ability to mirror some sight of reality basically forms the representationalist art. (or figurative art, despite it doesn’t always contain figures.) Regarding this, the way to reflect things that a mind perceives and understands reality, is the supreme purpose.

E.Lushpin "Golden Moment"

The artworks, particularly paintings and sculptures are derived from real object sources. A Russian contemporary artist Evgeny Lusphin’s paintings are a great example for this. His works are captured in a manner incredibly realistic but they are also too perfect to be real. “Golden Moment” (2013) for instance, is an outstanding depiction of a fantasized imagery of Venice. The more detailed the city scenery is shown, the more desirable it becomes for the viewer.

R.Jackson "Props"

Come to that, another contemporary representational artist Robert Jackson seemingly finds enjoyment in details. To him, representational painting is a very slow and thoughtful utterance and means of communication. Having influenced by pop art, his work “Props” (2014) is inescapably fortified by an elaborative observation. It looks like the viewer could walk into the scene and pick up a burger and walk out of it again.


In other respects, non-representational or abstract art, is totally a different perception. Abstract art also tends to represent something but the extreme understanding of the movement impede the clear representation.

Movements such as Romanticism, Impressionism, Expressionism contributed to the naissance of abstract art in the 19th century. Abstract art exists on a continuum, from somewhat representational work, to work that is so far removed from its actual real-world appearance that it is almost impossible to easily discern what is being represented.[1]

W. Kandinsky "On White II"

The painting “On White II” (1923), by Wassily Kandinsky is a good example for the complete abstraction. Kandinsky may well have intended for this composition to represent something which already exists, but the abstraction is so extreme that to most people, it is just an assortment of lines, colors, and shapes.[2] Based on this, abstraction is considered to be a revealer of the unseen with an exaggerated and distorted style by drawing the focal attention to what the artist may have thought during the completion of the artwork.


C.Monet "Soleil Couchant, Temps Brumeux, Pourville"

The Impressionists nonetheless, painted with loose brushwork and simplified forms, often far from a realistic depiction, but their work can still be identifiable as something which already exists.[3] Claude Monet’s “Soleil Couchant, Temps Brumeux, Pourville,” (1882), is nebulous and loose, but it still represents a seashore along with the compact clouds and the blurry sunset. Besides, no naturalistic presence can be determined in Robert Delaunay’s “Le Premier Disque” (1913). This painting is a foremost example of early non-representational art, but it’s lack of any recognisable trace from the real world.

R.Delaunay "Le Premier Disque"

As a matter of fact, the representational and non-representational art both have a story to tell. It is all about the perception. Though the representational painting offers an artificial creation for the viewer, it embodies the capability of the painter and gives the opportunity of clinging with the perfect unreal. Non-representational art on the other side, propounds an invisible language for the inner space of the artist by generating a world of lines and shapes.

[1] https://courses.lumenlearning.com/sac-artappreciation [2] https://drawpaintacademy.com/representational-art/ [3] https://drawpaintacademy.com/representational-art/

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