Friday, May 15, 2015

Engineers and Abstract Art - Episode 54

Mark Rothko's Untitled (Yellow and Blue) 1954 was sold by Sotheby's at auction for $46.5 million. Here's a link to a Sotheby's video about the painting.

Mark Rothko, Untitled (Yellow and Blue), 1954
The news was a great opportunity for me to engage with some fellow engineers in "art appreciation." I'll let you imagine how those conversations went.

Here's what I find curious.

Engineers often love to parrot a quote attributed to Henry Ford: "The most beautiful things in the world are those from which all excess weight has been eliminated."

So if elimination of excess is that highly regarded by engineers in the context of designing a car or a bridge why can't they apply that same principle to painting?

An abstract painting has shed the excess weight of figuration. Despite the lack of traditional symbols, an abstract work still conveys human emotions and perhaps does so in a more archetypal and timeless manner than anything representational.

But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Addendum: Since writing the bit above, news reports indicated that Piet Mondrian's Composition No. III with Red, Blue, Yellow and Black sold at auction for $50.6 million. Are engineers more comfortable with Mondrian's more regimented style?

Piet Mondrian, Composition No. III with Red, Blue, Yellow and Black, 1929

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