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Abstraction Methods

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Visual Arts +1 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

Artists can abstract people and objects in many ways. Which methods of abstraction can you identify in these artworks?

  • Simplify
  • Fragment (or explode; break into pieces)
  • Multiply 
  • Rearrange (move the parts around)
  • Magnify (change the scale)
  • Distort (change the shape) 
  • Morph (change into something else)
  • Arbitrary Colors

Art making prompt: arrange some objects to draw. Then choose an abstraction method to create an artwork based on the objects you see.

Woman in a Hat (Marie-Thérèse Walter)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Autumn Leaves [photomechanical print]

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Yellow Calla

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Orion

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Skull of Zurbarán

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Otorhinological Head of Venus [sculpture] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Galatea of the Spheres [painting] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Woman

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Flowers

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Marilyn Monroe's Lips

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Marilyn Monroe

National Portrait Gallery

(Abstraction)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Figurative Abstraction

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Abstraction (Standing Figure)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Reclining Woman with Guitar

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Gondolier

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Landscape

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Modern Head #2

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden