The intensification of perception (abstraction)
Both artists were looking for a universal language.
(Is fame the best measure of something being universal?)
Broadway Boogie Woogie is a painting that is an abstraction of city life in New York. Instead of realistically depicting streets and cars, Mondrian reduced the experience into a geometric image. I like the painting because it doesn’t try to compete with New York. A painting will never feel the same as walking through a real city, it’s a painting. This painting is not embarrassed that it’s a painting, this painting is not hiding that it’s a painting. It’s a painting all the way. It’s not completely abstract though, it still triggers memories in your head, memories of flashing lights and streets and cars.
Mickey Mouse is a famous example of a cartoon character. Mickey doesn’t look much like a mouse, but he doesn’t look human either. He makes sense in the world of cartoons, in cartoon reality. I like him because he is a cartoon character all the way. Because animation required a lot of hand drawn frames (25 per second, for 6 minutes = 9000 drawings), cartoon characters were simplified more and more. Mickey only has 4 fingers. If he had 5 fingers that would mean 18000 extra fingers to draw for a 6 minute film.
Mondrian simplified to deal with the reality of the canvas. Disney simplified to deal with the reality of animation. Both of them intensified perception. The intensification of perception is very interesting to me. Impressions turn into thoughts and those thoughts turn into images created by humans. It is like seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.
There are many reasons to simplify, exaggerate, abstract, reduce, stylize.
It happens in paintings, in logos, in video games, in cartoons. Sometimes because of technical limitations, sometimes in service of communication, entertainment, beauty, budget, or for spiritual reasons.
The more perception is intensified, the more I’m interested.