Unchaotic art
August 8, 2009 8:41 AM   Subscribe

I've always been a fan of chaotic and unordered "messy" art. I'd like to appreciate art that goes the other direction. Who are some excellent artists (dead artists are good, but living people are better) that practice an ordered, symmetrical, or organized quality? Photos, paintings, drawings, any art is fine - even examples of music, or poetry and plays are desirable.
posted by bigmusic to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This is obviously pretty subjective, but I'm a big fan of Mark Rothko. Of course, with the caveat that it is always best to view visual art "in the flesh", as I think Rothko works best when you see his stuff on a plain wall, and can let the pieces fill your visual field, it is also nice to go someplace that has more than one on display.
posted by gudrun at 8:55 AM on August 8, 2009

Andy Goldsworthy
Tim Hawkinson
Ken Price
posted by effluvia at 9:11 AM on August 8, 2009

Here's some of my favorites.

Music: Philip Glass
Painting: Mondrian
Photography: VanCleave
Film: Ozu
posted by nedpwolf at 9:15 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

The first name that comes to my mind is Viktor Vasarely - very ordered, very harmonic, sometimes to the point of being boring.

Someone who liked to play around with the concepts of geometry, order, and symmetry was M.C. Escher; his artwork is somewhat more organic, there is not as much sterility as in Vasarely's and more attempts to connect the non-human symmetry to real-life situations, even if it's done jokingly.

Taking the concept of imposing order to the extreme is Ursus Wehrli in Kunst aufräumen ("tidying up art"), in which he takes classical works of art, takes them apart and re-orders them into tidy arrangements. It's not really serious art, but fun and even sometimes thought-provoking.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 9:19 AM on August 8, 2009

I would recommend the music of Orbital, which I find to have a very deliberately constructed and deconstructed quality. The band likes to build a song with riffs, adding and subtracting them throughout the song.

I've also seen Thomas Dolby do this live with his older material in his one-man show, although I'm told now that he's working on new music he won't be touring on the older music again. But seeing him build a song I knew by setting up the various tracks (drum, synth, etc) and then playing and singing over it was awesome, and if you get the chance to see him live, I recommend it.
posted by immlass at 9:31 AM on August 8, 2009

Louise Nevilson
Jenny Holzer
James Turrell

As for plays: David Mamet writes lean plot machines. Look at Heinrich Ibsen for examples of the "well made play" where everything gets set up in the first act and resolves neatly with the climax in the last. I also think the best farces are extremely well ordered. The jokes get set up very early on and are repeated, expanded, and ultimately combined until they reach their logical, but startling conclusion. I like a Flea In Her Ear.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 9:38 AM on August 8, 2009

I blogged about this very idea a few years ago. A brief post, but a few examples are mentioned.
posted by davebush at 9:39 AM on August 8, 2009

You might try Futurism, Neo-plasticism or Vorticism. Names that spring to mind are Vilhelm Hammershoi, Victor Vasarely, Jean Tinguely, Auguste Herbin, Ellsworth Kelly, Yves Klein, Otto Freundlich, Cesar Domela, Jean Gorin, Georges Vantongerloo, Marlow Moss, Joseph Mellor Hanson, Sophie Tauber-Arp, Theo Van Doesburg, Euan Uglow, Constantin Brancusi.
posted by fire&wings at 9:56 AM on August 8, 2009

Emily Dickenson.
posted by Diablevert at 10:05 AM on August 8, 2009

Sol Lewitt
posted by nax at 10:10 AM on August 8, 2009

Music: Steve Reich
Visual art: Chuck Close -- these are portraits, not abstract works, but the detailed pointillist technique, even when they get a little soft and complex, may be what you're looking for
posted by maudlin at 10:54 AM on August 8, 2009

Generative art is produced through a logical system - is this the sort of thing? See also systems art. I've heard Sol Le Witt, mentioned above, called a systems artist.
posted by paduasoy at 11:03 AM on August 8, 2009

I second the painter Piet Mondrian. He's best known for painting pictures of squares and straight lines, using primary colors. For years he cooperated with the painter Theo van Doesburg, but they split (allegedly) because van Doesburg panted diagonals: "During 1924 the two men had disagreements, which eventually led to a (temporary) split in the same year. The exact reason for this split has been a point of contention among art historians; usually the divergent ideas about the directions of the lines in the paintings have been named as the primary reason: Mondrian never accepted diagonals, whereas Doesburg insisted on the diagonal's dynamic aspects, and indeed featured it in his art."

Also, Yves Klein: "The next exhibition, 'Proposte Monochrome, Epoca Blu' (Proposition Monochrome; Blue Epoch) at the Gallery Apollinaire, Milan, (January 1957), featured 11 identical blue canvases (...)."

Regarding unchaotic music: Johann Sebastian Bach, Arvo Pärt and perhaps Jan Garbarek. This album with Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny may also be of interest to you. To quote from two of the Amazon reviews: "Both pare their playing to a Zen-like economy, focusing on a purity of tone, clarity of harmony (...)","(...) quiet and low-key, yet totally engrossing".
posted by iviken at 11:10 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Josef Albers.
posted by Jon-o at 11:58 AM on August 8, 2009

How about looking at the Conceptual Art and Minimalism books in Phaidon's Themes and Movements series? Each has an extensive textual survey at the beginning and then breaks into thematic sections focussing on specific works within the movements. The back quarter-to-third of each book is full of republished interviews and contemporaneous reviews. Really wonderfully put together and in-depth but still browsable. The kind of books you want to eat with your brain.
posted by SebastianKnight at 2:39 PM on August 8, 2009

The Ramones
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 3:30 PM on August 8, 2009

Some of the cubists did all kinds of stuff messing around w/ the golden ratio...
posted by paultopia at 1:50 AM on August 9, 2009

Coming back to suggest also checking out some of the artists from the Color Field movement. You get a range from the very controlled stripe paintings of Gene Davis to the more painterly work of someone like Richard Diebenkorn.
posted by gudrun at 4:00 AM on August 10, 2009

For poetry, check out Crystallography by Christian Bök.
posted by sleevener at 9:08 AM on August 19, 2009

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