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HomeContentsThemes > Abstraction of the real


555.01   Abstraction of the real
555.02   Abstraction of the real: Repetition
555.03   Abstraction of the real: Irregularity
555.04   Abstraction of the real: Round
555.05   Abstraction of the real: Colour
555.06   Wilson A. Bentley: Photomicrographs of snowflakes
555.07   Wilson A. Bentley: Frost
555.08   Aaron Siskind: Chicago
555.09   Aaron Siskind: Gloucester
555.10   Toni Schneiders: Form
555.11   Peter Keetman: Abstraction of the real
555.12   Mario Giacomelli: On Being Aware of Nature (Presa di coscienza sulla natura)
555.13   Brett Weston: Abstraction of the real
555.14   Michael Jackson: Poppit Sands (2007-)
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
555.01   Abstract >  Abstraction of the real 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 94 slides to load.) 
The everyday is full of abstract forms which we largely ignore. We accept the common-place of a visual environment that is made up of patterns or the lack of patterns and it is the photographer who captures the moments of beauty within. Peter Keetman is best known for the series he took in April 1953 of a Volkwagen factory[1] where machined steel created shapes similar to those in the insect world.  
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Peter Keetman: Volkwagen factory 
One of Peter Keetman's photographs of sand caught as it bounces chaotically on a glass incline captures a beauty that transcends the commonplace.  
Peter Keetman: Sand on a glass plate (1960) 
Multiple cameras, flash and stroboscopic photography all capture movement in single photographs or sequences that reveal events that most ignore – a drop of one fluid hitting another, the bounce of a ball, a stream of water from a tap, or the play of light within a room.  
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High speed cameras 
To Abelardo Morell two forks under water take on an unworldly quality. The objects are commonplace but the vision to take it is far from common.  
Abelardo Morell: Two forks under water (1993) 
Still lifes of glass plates, sugar cubes, roses each take from carefully selected viewpoints reveal inner complexities that most would miss.  
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Repetition of shapes 
Lucien Hervé and Beaumont Newall both took photographs looking upwards within urban environments producing similar views. Seemingly simple after all these combinations should be common in any urban environment but few notice the juxtapositions of line and form.  
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Looking up 
Where there are limited clues to height and scale landscapes can lose cohesion and become abstract,  
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Abstraction within landscapes 
The study of forms surrounds us and yet is invisible in plain sight to most of us. 
555.02   Abstract >  Abstraction of the real: Repetition 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 28 slides to load.) 
555.03   Abstract >  Abstraction of the real: Irregularity 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 22 slides to load.) 
555.04   Abstract >  Abstraction of the real: Round 
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555.05   Abstract >  Abstraction of the real: Colour 
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555.06   Abstract >  Wilson A. Bentley: Photomicrographs of snowflakes 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 20 slides to load.) 
The American Museum of Natural History in New York has a number of slides of snowflakes that appear to be the work of Wilson A. Bentley  
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Attributed to Wilson A. Bentley: 35mm colour slides of snowflakes 
   Wilson A  Bentley 
View exhibition 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
555.07   Abstract >  Wilson A. Bentley: Frost 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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555.08   Abstract >  Aaron Siskind: Chicago 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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555.09   Abstract >  Aaron Siskind: Gloucester 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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555.10   Abstract >  Toni Schneiders: Form 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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555.11   Abstract >  Peter Keetman: Abstraction of the real 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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555.12   Abstract >  Mario Giacomelli: On Being Aware of Nature (Presa di coscienza sulla natura) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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555.13   Abstract >  Brett Weston: Abstraction of the real 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 18 slides to load.) 
555.14   Abstract >  Michael Jackson: Poppit Sands (2007-) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 16 slides to load.) 
Many photographers have photographed beaches mostly concentrating on human activity with An Incident at Yarmouth (1892) by Paul Martin[2] and The Sunday Walkers in Deauville (1914) by Jacques-Henri Lartigue[3] being examples of this type. Few have provided long term and detailed studies of the abstract patterns but there are exceptions. Alfred Ehrhardt photographed patterns in the sands of the North Sea and in the dunes of the Kurische Nehrung (Curonian Spit)[4] in former Eastern Prussia from the 1930s onwards and his photographs are in multiple books.[5] Alfred Ehrhardt's work was a Modernist Bauhaus-inspired examination of shape and form.
Michael Jackson since 2007 has been photographing Poppit Sands[6] in Pembrokeshire in the southwest of Wales. Using the square format of a Hasselblad frame to best advantage Michael Jackson has created a dark and brooding series of images that lift themselves from temporal or spatial constraints. The work has similarities with the work of Minor White and Aaron Siskind being a search for the inner meaning of form but Michael Jackson does not provide his own interpretations:
I think an image needs to be born from an honest place. It needs strength and also something that cannot be described in words. Words are pretty useless when it comes to describing heartfelt reactions.[7]
The work of Michael Jackson is an abstraction of the real and leaves the viewer to add additional levels of meaning. 

  1. Λ Peter Keetman, 1993, Volkswagen: A Week at the Factory, (Chronicle Books) 
  2. Λ Paul Martin, 1939, Victorian Snapshots, (London: Country Life); Paul Martin, n.d. [1978?], A Yarmouth Holiday, (London: Nishen Photography) [Introduction by Mark Haworth-Booth]; Bill Jay, 1973, Victorian Candid Camera: Paul Martin 1864-1944, (Newton Abbot: David and Charles) 
  3. Λ Jacques-Henri Lartigue, 1966, Boyhood Photos of J. H. Lartigue: The Family Album of a Gilded Age, (Lausanne, Switzerland: Ami Guichard); Martine D’Astier, Quentin Bajac & Alain Saya, 2003, Lartigue: Album of a Century, (New York: Harry N. Abrams) 
  4. Λ Kurische Nehrung = Curonian Spit, a geological formation originally caused by a glacial moraine which is a 98 kilometre long series of dunes now in Russia and Lithuania. 
  5. Λ For Alfred Ehrhardt - Kurt Dingelstedt & Alfred Ehrhardt, 1937, Alfred Ehrhardt: Das Watt, (Hamburg: Heinrich Ellermann Verlag); Alfred Ehrhardt, 1938, Alfred Ehrhardt, Die Kurische Nehrung, (Hamburg: Heinrich Ellermann Verlag); Alfred Ehrhardt, 1967, Alfred Ehrhardt, Das Wattenmeer. Formen und Strukturen, (München: Starczewski Verlag) 
  6. Λ Poppit Sands - Wikipedia
    (Accessed: 25 April 2014) 
  7. Λ Michael Jackson "Poppit Sands" interviewed by Kai Behrmann (6 March 2014)
    (Accessed: 25 April 2014)


HomeContents > Further research

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General reading 
Dickerman, Leah (ed.) et al., 2013, Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925, (New York: he Museum of Modern Art) isbn-10: 0870708287 isbn-13: 978-0870708282 [Δ
Fraenkel, Jeffrey (ed.), 2013, The Unphotographable, (Fraenkel Gallery) isbn-10: 1881337332 isbn-13: 978-1881337331 [Δ
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
Florence Henri 
du Pont, Diana C., 1990, Florence Henri: Artist-Photographer of the Avant-Garde, (San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) [Δ
Aaron Siskind 
Chiarenza, Carl, 1982, Aaron Siskind: Pleasures and Terrors, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company) [Δ
Siskind, Aaron, 1989, Road Trip: Photographs 1980–1988, (San Francisco: Friends of Photography) [Δ
Traub, Charles, 2014, Aaron Siskind: Another Photographic Reality, (University of Texas Press) isbn-10: 0292762917 isbn-13: 978-0292762916 [Δ
Minor White 
Bunnell, Peter, 1989, Minor White: The Eye That Shapes, (Princeton: Princeton University Art Museum) [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

Carl Chiarenza  (1935-) • Michael Jackson  (1966-) • Burton Pritzker  (1941-) • Arthur Siegel  (1913-1978) • Aaron Siskind  (1903-1991) • Robert Weingarten  (1941-)
HomeThemesAbstract > Abstraction of the real 
A wider gazeRelated topics 
Experimental and manipulated photography 
Subjective photography - Subjektive fotografie 

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Abstraction of the real

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailAaron Siskind: The Egan Gallery Years 1947-1954 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (May 22, 2008)
ThumbnailAbstract: Abstraction of the Real 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Improved (October 22, 2010)
ThumbnailCarl Chiarenza: The Nature of Abstraction 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (August 29, 2007)
ThumbnailStefano Nicolini: Swimming Pool (Piscine) 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (July 14, 2010)

HomeVisual indexes > Abstraction of the real

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailBrett Weston: Abstractions 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailDenis Brihat: Abstractions of form 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailFlorence Henri: Compositions 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailGyörgy Kepes: Wheel Spokes and Flame Form 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailHarry Callahan: Abstracts 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailHarry Callahan: Chicago - multiple prints 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailMichael Jackson: Poppit Sands 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailMichael Wolf: Architecture of Density 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailPeter Keetman: Abstraction of the real 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailWilson A. Bentley: Frost 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailAaron Siskind - Manuel Álvarez Bravo 
ThumbnailAaron Siskind - Mario Giacomelli 
ThumbnailCarleton E. Watkins - Unidentifier photographer 
ThumbnailEdward Steichen - Harry Callahan 
ThumbnailHarry Callahan - Lisa M. Robinson 
ThumbnailMargaret Bourke-White - Peter Keetman 
ThumbnailMargaret Bourke-White - René-Jacques - Peter Keetman - Rose-Lynn Fisher 
ThumbnailUnidentified photographer - György Kepes 
ThumbnailWynn Richards - Ruth Bernard - Edward Steichen - Vilma Slomp 
ThumbnailAbstract: Abstraction of the real 
   Still thinking about these... 
ThumbnailPhotographic test strips 
ThumbnailSugar cubes 
Refreshed: 20 January 2015, 06:45
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