Abstract art is art that does not represent the natural appearance of people or objects, but rather simplifies them into basic structures of lines, shapes and colors. There are extreme forms of abstract art, called non-objective or non-presentational art, which do not bear any resemblance to objects or people. Sometimes abstract art has recognizable features, but they are distorted. The emphasis is on color, line, symmetry, texture and composition.
Abstract artists believe that naturalistic paintings do not serve any purpose because a photo will do just as well.
Many people believe that this form of art was developed in the 20th century, but there are elements of abstract art in the drawings of ancient times. It was artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munsch who were the forerunners of modern abstract art.
Cubism and Expressionism are two styles of abstract art in which objects are recognizable. The outstanding artists who used this style are Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. In their paintings, while you can see the objects, they are reduced to essential geometric shapes and are rearranged and broken up. The same object may be seen from different angles and in various relationships to the space and other objects around it. While Cubism was concerned with the structural and spatial relationship of objects, Expressionism was concerned with giving expression to the artists’ own moods and emotions. Artists who followed the Expressionist style often used violent colors and severely distorted objects to demonstrate intense agitation or emotion.
Abstract Expressionism developed in the United States around 1945 and then spread throughout the world. This is a non-representational and highly personal style. The artist does not necessarily have an outcome in mind for the work and works in an intuitive way. This style is characterized by spontaneous and impulse applications of paint and free use is made of any accidental effects. There are no mistakes with this style as the artist just paints at will making shapes wherever he/she wants.
Abstract art has become very important in modern times. The new discoveries of science have provided the artists with new ways of looking at life, nature, and reality. Psychology has led to an emphasis on personal expression and on expressing one’s emotional side. Actually, critics of abstract art say that it represents the breakdown of traditional values in society.
Abstract art represents not only a new way of looking at the world around us, but a new way of looking at art itself. Some artists use unconventional means of developing their art using sand, wire, charred wood, pebbles and glass as well as welding, pasting and splattering. Old objects that have been thrown in the trash become pieces of their artwork. These artists feel that artwork does not have to represent any one object, but is an object of art all by itself.
Many times you may look at a painting and think that whoever painted it must have been crazy because the colors and shapes seem to form a hodgepodge. Yet when these paintings are hung in the proper setting they really are quite beautiful. Many abstract art paintings have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars and art museums all over the world clamber to obtain a painting by one of the abstract artists.