Realism vs. Abstraction is a very touchy subject in the art world. As a rather traditional painter myself, I do have my reservations about many abstract paintings. There, I said it. Just the other day, I was having dinner with some friends. One of them gave us some invitation cards to an art show. The painting displayed on the card was an abstract painting of a few simple colors in a wavy pattern. Another friend Sage took a quick look at it and said "I don't like it. The colors and design are not working". She then turned to others for confirmation. My first reaction was a bit uncomfortable. It was almost instinctive. Even though I had similar opinions about the painting as Sage, I was not ready to criticize an abstract painting right away. It seemed more "politically correct" to hold back my opinions. But hearing her straight-forward comment, I did want to back her up. "I would agree with you in private", I said a bit jokingly.
In my mind, I can't help but ask the question. What makes a bad abstract? Can realistic painters like us criticize an abstract painting? I'd like to think so. I certainly like some abstract paintings, so I don't think I am prejudiced against the more expressionist form of art. But I still can't quite verbalize what makes me like or dislike a piece of abstract artwork as I can with a realistic one.