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Concrete and Abstract in Sonntag

nightowl's picture

I would say that in Sonntag’s essay anything concrete would mean an example or interpretation and abstract would be leaving the art alone with time and it’s physicality. Sonntag leaves parts of her essay open to interpretation in her use of sentence structure and words and what “new vocabulary” we would use to describe/define art. Instead of “genius” I would say as a “critic” that this is a lack of it, a lack of concrete ideas. I don’t like how she presents the abstract emotional side of art as indefinable. I think the emotional reaction that someone has to art is directly related to concrete ideas about the world. This as she says can constrain the artwork, but there are also multiple interpretations of art. Therefore, art mixed with time and multiple people has the potential to be interpreted in almost everyway. This basically infinite amount of interpretations is how I think of the abstract emotional side of the art. I think that interpreting isn’t altering something but is taking from it something that is already there whether the artist knew they put it there or not.

As a side note I do like how she bashes history because I’ve always hated learning about things that have been interpreted multiple times…stories about stories about stories. But then again, her essay was built on what she has read and is an interpretation and history of sorts, and I found it really interesting despite this. Also when she talks about the history of interpretation in academics, interpretation is more primal then that. Interpretation would have been used when finding food while hunting and guessing which way an animal might move or which berries were safe to eat. Interpretation is one of the most basic tools of thinking, “to understand is to interpret.

When my grandmother died I made art out of the flower petals from her funeral. When I showed this artwork to a friend he asked if this had a special significance to it. I simply said “no” because I didn’t want to claim the art as well thought out or meaningful simply because it was made out of grief/death which is something I don’t understand. In that example I left the art in the abstract not because I was “genius” or was a person with a “mind” but because I simply did not know. What I was playing with was bigger than something I could create. So in the case of this story I kind of get part of Sonntag’s point, or maybe I'm more confused.