Some artists define simplicity as expressing the essence of a subject in the most revealing or basic way. German-born American abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) said:
The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
Or, as freelance writer Robert Brault puts it, "you don't torture a painting that has already confessed."
I always feel the need to achieve the maximum of intensity with the minimum of means. This is what has led me to give my painting an ever sparer character.
It is very near the whole of the higher artistic process; finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole.
It's no easy business to be simple....Sometimes I don't understand why my arms don't drop from my body with fatigue, why my brain doesn't melt away.
I'll let Clyfford Still (1904-1980), a leading figure in Abstract Expressionism [see his "red" painting above], have the last word:
The best works are often those with the fewest and simplest elements...until you look at them a little more, and things start to happen.
When reading or viewing or listening, do you prefer an overall impact of simplicity or is complexity more appealing? What examples come to mind?
Do you strive for simplicity in your work? If you start from a place of great complexity, what helps you to move toward simplicity?