What is abstract art and how did it get started?

To understand what abstract art is, one must first know that it is abstract. Abstraction is the act and the result of abstracting, that which cannot be perceived directly through the senses, that which excludes the concrete and moves away from the external aspect of a reality. When the word is applied to the artistic sphere or to an artist, it describes the intention of not representing concrete beings or objects, contemplating only elements of form, color, structure or proportion.

When did abstract art arise?

Abstraction is not an invention of modern western art . In prehistory and other cultures they have been practicing and admiring abstract visual arts such as calligraphy for centuries, with an infinite number of samples of geometric and stylized forms used since the origin of art.

From the Renaissance onwards, the concern to recreate the illusion of reality dominates the visual arts such as painting or sculpture, and until the arrival of Impressionism, painters inverted the priorities in representation and gave greater importance to the pictorial procedure, moving them away from appearances. external to reality.

Keywords : abstract paintings, abstract figures

As figurative art goes into crisis, abstract art opens the way with a new concept to capture reality and with the help of expressionism or cubism, which react against realism exploring different ways independently of reality.
The abstract art emerges in 1910 in Munich, at the hands of the Russian artist Wasily Kandinsky, exposing the first ideas about abstract art, whose consequences have made him one of the most significant events of the twentieth century, being an opposing view to the figurative art thinking.

The abstract art does not represent figures, objects or people, but uses its own visual language with a varied meanings, making abstract forms without imitating or represent faithfully the natural. It is a style that focuses on formal, structural and chromatic details and deepens them through the accentuation of its value and expressive power.

When abstract art began there were great controversies and discrepancies, it was said that it was not art in itself, in prehistoric times stylization and geometry were used, but as time has passed it has become an inexhaustible source of ideas for artists of our century being now when nobody dares to question their existence and identity as their own art.

The definition of this concept includes many visual arts such as painting, sculpture or the graphic arts, although this art can also be seen in some plastic arts. An example of this may be architecture. In summary abstract art can be found in any category of traditional art including music, dance or literature. Although it is a lesser known abstract art, there is evidence that such expressions exist.
An abstract workit cannot allude to something external to the work, that is, this work reveals a new reality very different from the one we see. For this reason, abstract art is the one that replaces all kinds of figuration (landscapes, figures, objects, geometric shapes, etc.). Therefore, abstract art does not consider the need to make a figurative representation, so it usually changes it for a visual language that has its own meaning. To understand a little more about the language of this concept of art we will have to visualize the form, the line of representing a structure which may be different from the vision we have in reality and finally we will have to know the meaning of color.

At the end of the Second World War, the abstract expressionism artistic movement emerged  . Its bases were in surrealism, combining different techniques in the same work. An important style that becomes very popular in this movement is  collage , which uses mixtures of different materials or elements.

Characteristics of abstract art

  • Moving away from the mimesis of external appearance, the abstract work of art exists independently of reality.
  • The degree of abstraction can be partial, preserving parts of the natural and modifying others, or absolute, where there are no recognizable figurative traces.
  • Emphasis on the expressiveness of the essential elements of art and its organization.
  • Materials and procedures take on meaning beyond their technical aspect.
  • The title of the works can be explanatory and help convey a message.

Why is it said that abstract art is out of reality?

In reality the answer to this question is relatively easy since the abstract distances reality. This distance can be slightly, partially or completely, so the concept of abstract has three degrees. Therefore, a work of art that mixes form and color can be considered an abstract part of it. A work which can not observe any type of layout, that can not recognize anything and that mixes colors is a completely abstract work. This completely abstract work is so named because it is completely pure in abstraction since it is not based on a natural reality.

What kind of abstract art is there?

  • Abstract expressionism:  It is based on emotion, on the expressiveness of color, and on the psychological manifestations of the artist, totally rejecting figuration.
  • Neoplasticism:  is an art that excludes all kinds of emotions, is governed by mathematical rules and the radical simplification of geometry.
  • Constructivism:  where the works are broadly and artistically represented
  • Informalism:  It is a non-geometric abstract art, which claims the materiality of painting and its many technical possibilities, rejecting the figurative and non-figurative forms, assuming color as its material and subject of the painting.
  •  Lyrical Abstractionism: its basic principles are calm, stillness, balance and harmony.

In summary, abstract art is nothing more than a way to teach the world that not only can you show feelings with figures or with the vision of our reality, there are times when we must look beyond our reality to find what is the true art.

Abstract art and children

Children can grasp the concept of abstract art , easier than adults, when it is explained in simple terms and illustrated with visuals, since children often create it inadvertently as children’s attempts to copy what they see in Paper is usually an art that bears little resemblance to the original and is therefore not identifiable to others, although the child can easily explain it.

Outstanding painters of abstract art

Robert Delaunay: Born in Paris in 1885, he cultivated cubism for a time, but soon went to abstraction, above all he devoted himself to color and light, using vivid colors freely organized around a fairly elemental geometric structure. This purpose was achieved in his Windows. creating transparent planes of geometric shapes where there is hardly any drawing, with independent lighting and the motif of the window will gradually be lost until it becomes totally abstract paintings.

Piet Mondrian: he was born in New York in  1872.  As he aspired to a non-sentimental, non-subjective painting, independent of any historical, cultural or geographical burden, with a straight line and a right angle, that is, to the horizontal and vertical already the three primary colors, along with white, gray, and black, and not those that result from their combinations. He called this new artistic language Neoplasticism. 

Wassily Kandinsky: was born in Moscow in 1866.  He reached an abstraction imbued with feeling, his painting is intended to awaken emotion in the viewer, expressing the spirit, the inner reality, the moods, the feelings. In 1910 he executed the first watercolor without a theme, known as the First Abstract Watercolor. Above an imaginary space, colored abstract shapes float and move in which no mimetic references are found. The fluidity of the color spots and the nervous gesture of the line make up a space of great dynamism, beginning to paint canvases full of chromatic spots and simplified shapes, moving away from the natural one. His tendency towards the abstract was carried out in a series of works that he himself called Impressions, Improvisations and Compositions. 


Leave a Comment