"Completely abstract paintings, in which there is no figure, landscape, still life or other subject, are about composition itself. We see the paint as paint. We see the color and texture and value and the way paint was applied, the gestural touch of the painter's hand."
An abstract painting is not a design project. Accomplished abstraction is NEVER just "about composition itself". It participates in a long and diverse legacy of ontological investigation and proposition. It embodies, through specific resonances of color, configuration and physicality, a sense of place -- psychological, physical, existential, and proposes the potential for meaning through the agency of visual metaphor and presence. Abstraction reflects a cosmology that is not anthropocentric or dogmatic, but concerned with open and ineffable experience, and built upon ambiguity, speculation, and uncertainty.
A very abbreviated tour of abstraction through time:
Walter De Maria
Tantric Painting, India, 20th century
Aboriginal Australia, 20th century
Weaving, Navajo, 19th century
Textile, Ghana, 19th century
Tiebele, West Africa
New Mexico, circa 1200
Textile, Peru, circa 1200
Greek, 8th century BC
Minoan, 1800 BC
Cueva del Castillo, Spain, circa 40,000 BC
Images from the Internet