The Anything But Realism thread

I want to make this thread especially for posting your favorite works of art that don't fall under the realism umbrella. Anything and everything you can thing of, except the art movements that are related to realism.

No more than one painting per person per day. Please specify the artist and the title of the work.


  • Let's start with Wassily Kandinsky's Composition VIII (1939)

    Kandinsky's audience was quite shocked by the transition from the apocalyptic emotion of his previous Composition to the geometric rhythm of Composition VIII. “Composition VIII” reflects, to a certain extent, the influence of Suprematism and Constructivism assimilated by Kandinsky in Russia and in the Bauhaus.

    @dencal , now it's your turn. :o 
  • edited August 3
    You may not get many responses to this thread, Lucian, because DMP is about realism. I only paint realism and a lot of abstraction leaves me cold but I can appreciate some abstract works. Also, it can be difficult to talk about the realism/ abstraction dichotomy because a lot  will depend on how one wants to define realism. Even in the painting by Kandinsky you posted above we can see elements that might be objects in our visual world. I see the sun, a snake, little dials, chop sticks etc. Others will probably see other things.

    I'm going to post two paintings to illustrate the range from semi-abstract to complete abstraction.

    An example of a painting I love and which may, or may not be regarded as realism, is Picasso's Guernica. It is huge and a powerful image on many levels. We see objects in it we may recognize but they are highly abstracted.



    Another painting I really like, and which is about as abstract as you could get, is this one by Rothko:

                                              No.2 - Red, Green and Blue

    I can lose myself in those colour fields. To me it is beautiful. I imagine some will see a landscape in this, although I doubt that was Rothko's intention. 

    I'd be interested to see what abstract works others post. 
  • 'Anything but realism' is really broad and there are many styles I like. For me at the top by a long way are the impressionists, and particularly Van Gogh and Gaugin who pushed the bounds away from realism. I've stood, awestruck, in front of a few of Vincent's paintings, feeling like I was just drinking in pure beauty and wonder.
    Sorry, very low-res image taken at National Gallery of Victoria that doesn't deliver the impact of being there. I just posted this because it was on my phone.
    In terms of pure abstract, where the work doesn't play with recognisable motifs, I've often genuinely appreciated them and liked them. But try as I might, I can't think of a single example that I would rate among favourite paintings. Pollock's work is quite striking, I guess, but well down the list. There is a supposed societal implication that I must lack the sensitivity, imagination or intellectual grasp of the forms, but I don't think that's the reason. The now old-fashioned post-modernism had in its time (among other things) a kind of shock value to ask questions and shift perspectives, and this once seemed really cutting edge. but I grew up in a post-modern world so I rarely react with wow or how profound. As pieces they're mostly, yeah... ok. Nice. And often underwhelming. A few I've really loved, but can't recall.
  • One of my favorites is Max Ernst's "A Moment of Calm."

    A Moment of Calm (

    The online image does not do this justice. Viewed in person, it shows a variety of subtle patterns that coalesce into objects that appear and then change into something else. The surface, for an oil painting, is complex, with varying depths, and edges which catch and reflect the light. If you look at it for more than a minute, it changes in front of your eyes! Many moving creatures showing different emotions in the image and reacting to each other. Careful modeling of close values. It is pretty big at about 5x10 feet. 

    A masterpiece. 

    Violating Lucian's rules: the Alexander Calder room in the same NGA: an entire room filled with moving mobiles and stable stabiles. In shifting light over the day from the windows. Some parts of the mobiles are made of translucent colored material, so the light shines not just on them but through them. One may lie on the floor and look up at the constantly changing patterns. It is like floating in a coral reef on an alien planet. 
  • edited August 8
    Oh, I have to add. Australian indigenous art. Stunning. Stirring. Fascinating to see a culture that was so crushed continue to express uniqueness in so many different expressions. And the fascinating thing is that, though it is abstracted, they can read an story into it. I was at a workshop where an indigenous artist said - these symbols are people - these are the marks someone makes on the ground when they sit around the fire. So they are rich with symbolism which is specific to their group - it may not translate to a different aboriginal group.

  • It is hard to choose for me from so many paintings I admire and I also have to apologise for I am going to violate your rule of one painting per person from the getgo:)

    David Lynch: Bob finds himself in a world for which he has no understanding

    I struggled to like any artwork he produced, but I had this image in the back of my head somewhere and I returned to it later just to discover slowly my admiration for it. I find the title and concept of the image really interesting.

    Michael Haffkta: The Observer and the Observed

    There is something about this painting that is so different and captivating. I can't really explain in detail why I find most images done in a surrealistic style so interesting, but I wanted to share this one as well so maybe it can have a similar effect on someone else.
  • One of my favorites Jan Mankes,  a Dutch painter (a self portrait here) 
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