The Rules of Abstraction with Matthew Collings

The Rules of Abstraction with Matthew Collings


Painter Fiona Rae puts it neatly: "It's making a picture of something that doesn't exist… an impossible task, but an interesting one." She's talking to an extravagantly bearded Matthew Collings about the process of creating abstract art. It's an art movement that makes demands of both the creator and the viewer; what is the artist trying to convey, and how are we meant to look at their work?

Collings is an engaging guide in a dense but absorbing film that combines a history of the movement with chats with current practitioners. You may never look at line, colour and shape the same way again.


The presenter attempts to answer basic questions about abstract art, which many people view as an often baffling form of expression. He consideres the meanings and interpretations of various pieces from the past 100 years, including by Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, and visits 92-year-old artist Bert Irvin at his studio in Stepney, East London.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Matthew Collings
Guest Bert Irvin
Director Graham Strong
Executive Producer Mark Bell
Executive Producer Denys Blakeway