it seems like the distinction between "representational" (or imitative) and "non-representational" art that arose after the invention of photography tended to lump all art from before this distinction arose into the "representational" category (with "new" art being distinguished, and seen as virtuous, as "non-representational"). but of course before this distinction was drawn there was no such taxonomy and artists wouldn't have conceptualized themselves as belonging to either category

in a sense photography was just the culmination of a particular school of post-renaissance photo-realistic art in europe (which already used photography-like techniques like camera obscura etc), and the focus of "modern" art on materiality was a reaction to *that*, not a priori pioneering in non-representational art. because of course even a cursory glance at visual art throughout the world reveals a focus on materiality (from the beginning, even back to, like, lascaux)

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(which explains why the spoils of colonialism were so often exploited in early modernist art—dada and west african art, pound and chinese poetry... elsewhere in the world they found the non-imitative they had thought they were inventing!) this makes me wonder if this representational/non-representational distinction has arisen multiple times in history in multiple places? anyway, this has been Allison Pretends To Know About Art History, thx for tuning in, Blue Apron, a better way to cook

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@aparrish I think we can guess at why an empire would want to promote the idea of Art as a thing that communicates nothing coherent.

@rotatingskull I don't agree that abstract expressionism (or any of its progenitors) as a movement argues or demonstrates that art communicates nothing coherent?

@aparrish Sure. Well perhaps then it lauds incoherence and lack of limits?

@rotatingskull @aparrish I can't speak to visual art, but expressionism in music tries to have a coherence, just a break from the familiar, common, and traditional. And composers would enforce strict limitations on the songs they could write precisely as a way of breaking themselves away from the traditional notions of how songs move and resolve.

@aparrish Good point, but I can think of an exception: artists in strict Islamic societies who would have assured you that their work (e.g. geometric, calligraphic) was non-representational.

@wrenpile oh wow yes, that is an excellent (and obvious in hindsight) counterexample. that opens a whole new line of thinking for me here, thank you!

@aparrish @wrenpile
Even though it was non-representational, it's still supposed to be symbolic of, like, the beauty of god's creation, right?

In other words, while representing living things is taboo, they're trying to represent the idea of the idea of the universe. An intentional simulacrum?

@enkiv2 @aparrish Makes sense to me, but I’m pretty shallow in this subject.

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