Peter Shelton quote: “This whole figurative versus abstract stuff comes from faulty thinking …”

“Marlena Doktorczyk-Donohue: Would you concede that you create zany correlates of the body that maneuver between the abstract and the figurative?

Peter Shelton: This whole figurative versus abstract stuff comes from faulty thinking after World War II, suggesting that Modernism was fundamentally a battle between representation and abstraction. I don’t see it as one leading to the other or exceeding the other. It comes down to achieving some core expression, and the “hows” of getting there follow from that.

MDD: Do you mean that idea trumps process?

PS: Nothing is that simple. I mean that it’s inaccurate to see my work as growing linearly from abstract to real or simple to complex, or the reverse. Unlike many of my formalist predecessors, I don’t work linearly, evolving from project and situation to the next project and situation–ideas continue to circulate […]” (41)

Doktorczyk-Donohue, Marlena. “Simple Simply Isn’t.” Sculpture. April 2012. pgs. 38-45.

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5 thoughts on “Peter Shelton quote: “This whole figurative versus abstract stuff comes from faulty thinking …”

  1. Interesting how poetry and art have the same issues. I hear from one poet that this ‘crazy’ poem writing I’m doing this month, well, she doesn’t get it and doesn’t like it. In another email, a poet loves it. My ‘crazy’ poems are as ‘abstract’ as visual abtract work.

  2. I find what I do in my poetry/writing is more apparent or less baffling if I do it in form. My play in metaphor there is harder to entertain than in a substantial physical way (regardless of the figurative versus abstraction??). People get it more, or enjoy it more.

    Reading the figure is less work than reading an abstraction which is less work than a prose poem? Even if at a conceptual level it is similar? With figures some GPU module in the brain can take over and ‘things’ can be automagically dealt with, rather than annoy the CPU with trivial details?

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