Traditional art is based on conventions of resemblance between the work and that which it is a representation "of". Abstract art, in contrast, either adopts alternative modes of visual representation or reconfigures mimetic convention. This book explores the relation of abstract art to nature (taking nature in the broadest sense—the world of recognisable objects, creatures, organisms, processes, and states of affairs).

Abstract art takes many different forms, but there are shared key structural features centered on two basic relations to nature. The first abstracts from nature, to give selected aspects of it a new and extremely unfamiliar appearance. The second affirms a natural creativity that issues in new, autonomous forms that are not constrained by mimetic conventions. (Such creativity is often attributed to the power of the unconscious.)

The book covers three categories: classical modernism (Mondrian, Malevich, Kandinsky, Arp, early American abstraction); post-war abstraction (Pollock, Still, Newman, Smithson, Noguchi, Arte Povera, Michaux, postmodern developments); and the broader historical and philosophical scope.

chapter |8 pages


ByPaul Crowther, Isabel Wünsche

chapter 1|21 pages

Life into Art

Nature Philosophy, the Life Sciences, and Abstract Art
ByIsabel Wünsche

chapter 2|17 pages

Mondrian's First Diamond Composition

Spatial Totality and the Plane of the Starry Sky
ByMarek Wieczorek

chapter 3|17 pages

Man, Space, and the Zero of Form

Kazimir Malevich's Suprematism and the Natural World
ByChristina Lodder

chapter 4|17 pages

The Role of Mathematical Structure, Natural Form, and Pattern in the Art Theory of Wassily Kandinsky

The Quest for Order and Unity
ByChristopher Short

chapter 5|16 pages

“We want to produce like a plant that produces a fruit” 1

Hans Arp and the “Nature Principle”
ByAstrid von Asten

chapter 7|17 pages

Jackson Pollock

The Sin of Images
ByElizabeth Langhorne

chapter 8|6 pages

Clyfford Still's Regionalist Shamanism

ByStephen Polcari

chapter 9|17 pages

“Man is Present”

Barnett Newman's Search for the Experience of the Self
ByEva Ehninger

chapter 11|15 pages

Embodied Nature

Isamu Noguchi's Intetra Fountain
ByGlogowski Dominika

chapter 12|14 pages

The Arte Povera Experience

Nature Re-Presented
ByLaura Petican

chapter 13|19 pages

Nature's Hand

Writing Abstraction in the Work of Henri Michaux
ByBirgit Mersmann

chapter 14|24 pages

Abstract Art and Techno-Nature

The Postmodern Dimension
ByPaul Crowther

chapter 15|14 pages

Art, Beauty, and the Sacred

Four Ways to Abstraction
ByKarsten Harries

chapter 16|15 pages

The Complexities of “Abstracting” from Nature

ByAndrew Inkpin

chapter 17|13 pages

Meaning in Abstract Art

From Ur-Nature to the Transperceptual
ByCrowther Paul