Abstract Art

What is Abstract Art About?

Some art is intended to move us through visual gestures,  that transmit and release emotions. Such art is abstract. Abstract painters opt against visual representation by abstracting objects with the aim to express a certain attitude of the artist. Key was and is individual form of expression and a painting without a message and subject calls on viewers to use their own imagination.

Abstractions and representation are art topics which have always lead to interesting discussions and every artist is faced with the challenge of finding their right position. 

When did it start?

Until the early 20th century, art in the Western world was "representational", meaning it looked like something we easily recognise.  Things changed a lot in the 20th century. Life sped up. Technology advanced in leaps and bounds. New ideas flourished. Science made new discoveries, shattering our old perceptions of the way things were. Life became fast and complex and art had to reflect these changes. Art has always been a mirror of our time and artist began to express themselves in new ways. Architecture, music, literature, visual art - all of these took on new shapes. 

Abstract Art -  reality or  pure abstraction?. 

  • The term abstract art can be used for art that is based on reality where forms have been simplified to create an abstracted version of it.
  •  It is also used to describe art that uses forms, such as geometric shapes or gestural marks, which have no source at all in an external visual reality. 

Picasso’s well known 'Bull' series is an excellent example where forms have been simplified to create an abstracted version of it. 
It consists of eleven lithographs that show the development of an artwork from reality to abstraction. Step by step Picasso removes details until he has reduced the bull to a simple line. A carefully considered line that is unmistakably a bull. 

As time passed, pure abstraction developed and artists used forms which had no source at all in an external visual reality.

 What are the theories behind abstract art?

  • Art for art’s sake – that art should be purely about the creation of beautiful effects.
  • To create a visual equivalent of music– in that just as music is patterns of sound, art’s effects should be created by pure patterns of form, colour and line.
  • Greek philosopher Plato’s idea that non- naturalistic images such as circle, square or triangles carry the highest form of beauty, thus a painting can be appreciated for its lines and colour alone – it does not need to depict a natural object or scene 
  • In essence,  abstract art can be seen to carry virtues such as purity, simplicity or spirituality.


Types of Abstract Art

Overall abstract can be divided into the following basic six categories:

Minimalist, Gestural, Emotional, Geometric, Curvilinear, Colour

 Some of these types are less abstract than others, but all are concerned with separating art from reality.


When viewing an abstract painting, allow yourself to enter into the painting and the world it postulates and you might notice a whole other reality emerge. 

Browse abstract paintings