abstracting – frustration and order.

Research and Pre-Abstraction

When I began researching for this assignment, I was instantly drawn to the works of Robert Mangold and Donald Judd.  Both of these artists’ take on conceptual art is visually similar, in that they both use large blocks of colour and black lines, utilise sets or series in their works, and often create large wall-size artworks.  However, the two inspire fundamentally different feelings – Judd’s work provides a pleasing sense of symmetry and completion, whilst Mangold’s art invokes frustration in its incompletion.

I decided to take inspiration from Mangold’s Ring Image Set (2010) and Judd’s Untitled (featured in the Donald Judd: Prints exhibition) in creating my instructions.  I hoped that by blending the erratic, irritating nature of Mangold’s works with the structure and order of Judd’s works, it would create an artwork that was interesting without being strictly dull or overly incomplete.

Untitled by Judd
Ring Image Set by Mangold

These works are made using metal etching and aquatint (Ring Image Set) and woodcut prints (Untitled), so abstracting their ideas for paper will undoubtedly affect the final work.  It will lose some semblance of depth, which I hope to counter for in my instructions by asking my volunteers to vary the thickness of their lines (reminiscent of Judd’s own works).  I also hope to ensure that the works are still colourful and striking by being clear about which materials to use.



  • A3 Paper
  • Ruler
  • Yellow texta/highlighter
  • Pink texta/highlighter
  • Black texta


  1. Orient the A3 paper as landscape.
  2. Using a ruler and a yellow highlighter/texta, draw a perfect square in the centre of the paper, then colour it in.  The square’s top and bottom edges should be halfway between the centre and edge of the paper.
  3. Using a ruler and black texta, draw diagonal lines through the rectangle.  There should be three lines in both directions, with the middle line in each direction touching opposite corners of the rectangle.  The middle lines should be thicker than their counterparts.
  4. Using a ruler and a pink highlighter/texta, continue these lines out to the edges of the paper.  Again, ensure that the middle lines are thicker than their counterparts.
  5. Using the thin edge of a pink highlighter/texta, draw a circle inside the square.  However, make sure the circle is not complete and its edges do not match up.
  6. Take a photo of your finished work.

Abstraction 1:

Abstraction 2:

Abstraction 3:

Post-Abstraction and Reflection


Overall I am pleased with the quality of the abstractions, and how well they envision my instructions as art.  I believe the most accurate and strongest abstraction was No.2, due to how closely it followed my technical specifications; the lines and colour elements were particularly striking when they were clean and straight.  I had not predicted that the space between the lines would affect the works so profoundly, and in fact this was the most individual aspect across the three works.

I found the most difficult part about turning my idea into instructions was the incomplete circle.  In my head, I envisioned a circle similar to the black line in Ring Image Set‘s yellow work.  I struggled to describe this in detail and as such its interpretation was quite varied and dissimilar across the abstractions.  In reflection, I would have described the circle more specifically to achieve a better result; perhaps referring to its size, and describing it as “a circle that almost joins but goes slightly wide before completion”.

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