Monday, April 30, 2012

Geometric Abstraction

We have talked some about Russian art in class and there were moments of The Cranes are Flying that brought to mind geometric abstraction, a genre of art filled with solid, geometric forms in non-illusionistic space. Typically, such as in paintings like the one above by Malevich, paintings of this type are non-objective. There were no scenes that were completely reduced to bare shapes and that lacked any movement but there were many moments that stood out because of their stark contrast between light and dark. Shadows on the cobblestone streets and walls and the steel looking X barricades that are clustered on the streets, for example. The part in which Veronica and Mark are in the apartment during the air raid stands out the most in terms of abstract construction. As light flashes within the apartment it creates modular forms of white on the walls and ceiling, breaking down the picture into a more reduced layout. Similarly, outdoor scenes have consistent block forms in them. The shadows on the pavement from buildings are geometric and even though they pertain to specific representational parts, like buildings, they also appear non-objectively on the streets. Most of the moments I felt that scenes had been reduced to bare blocks were ones that had architectural elements in them. I am curious how others feel about the compositions of scenes.


  1. This is very interesting! I agree that there are many scenes that play with dark and light imagery. But I think there were a couple scenes that were still, especially those with close ups of peoples' faces. This created a dramatic effect focusing on sadness or intensity. I think your comment on the architecture might have to do with the fact that Russia was in a state of chaos so the buildings could not be artsy at all; they just had to be reliable.

  2. Thanks for posting about one of the most interesting parts of the movie! The way the filmmaker employed flashing light made the scene look quite dramatic, almost like stop-motion or time lapse photography. Combining the lighting with the music made for quite an intense segment!

  3. I think you could probably also divide the scenes in the movie into at least two groups based upon their geometric characteristics. There are some scenes in which curves prevail of angular shapes and vice versa. I wonder how we can correlate these differences to scene content.

    I'm thinking specifically of the train scene versus some of the early shots where Borya and Veronika are by the river. The jarring train scene is dominated by abstract angular forms whereas the more sedate scenes early in the film are typified by their use of sweeping curves.