What is Abstract Art:

Abstract art is a movement of the fine arts whose most striking feature is the representation of forms in a non-real way.

In abstract art the representation of images is distanced from reality. In the works of this period the form and representation of reality are less important than the ability of the work to allow different interpretations of feelings and emotions.

The movement is considered a form of opposition to the movements of the European avant-garde, especially to realism, both in painting, sculpture and printmaking. It appeared in Europe in the nineteenth century and the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky is considered the first representative of this movement.

It mixes influences of the cubist, expressionist and futuristic movement. The movement was also known as abstractionism, “unrepresentational” art, geometric abstraction, or “unrepresentational” art.

Abstract Art - Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky – Blue Segment (1921)

Learn more about expressionism and features of expressionism.

Features of Abstract Art

Since abstractionism has no commitment to represent reality, one of its most striking features is that it is a counterpoint to the concept of realistic art . Thus, the works are more conceptual and depart from what was known as classical art.

The works may have elements related to emotion or intuition, as a form of freedom of expression of the artist, without the need to represent a figure and without commitment to transmit reality. In many works the representation is of a feeling.

As such, another feature of abstract art is freedom for both the artist and the public, who are free to appreciate and interpret the work without compromising with reality.

The use of geometric shapes , straight and curved lines and many colors is also very present, especially in painting. The shapes are simpler and the contrast between colors, lights and shadows is widely used.

Because of these unreal and distant characteristics of reality, abstract art also allows many different interpretations of the meaning of works to be made.

Abstract Art Types

It is divided into two different types, also called strands: geometric abstractionism and informal abstractionism

Geometric abstractionism

Geometric abstract art had a great influence on the cubist and futurist movements, with the use of geometric shapes and with a more rational and hard features in the representations. Lines and colors are used to represent and form geometric figures.

Abstract Art - Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian – Composition in Red, Blue and Yellow (1930)

Informal abstractionism

Informal abstract art has different characteristics. Informal abstractionism was greatly influenced by the expressionist movement.

The art produced in this aspect is characterized by the presence of more sentimental elements , as well as more freedom in the form of artistic expression.

In informal abstract art, unlike geometric art, the colors and shapes used represent the inner universe of emotions, feelings, or sensations.

Abstract Art - Paul Klee
Paul Klee – Pierrot Lunaire (1924)

In Brazil abstract art began to emerge in the 1950s, mainly due to the influence of the painters Antonio Bandeira and Cicero Dias, who, after living in Europe, took abstractionism to Brazil.

The movement was established in the country in the following decade, mainly from the holding of the São Paulo Biennial editions, during the 60s.

Abstract Art Artists

Many artists have excelled in abstract artistic production, especially painting, sculpture and fine arts.

Meet some of them:

  • Wassily Kandinsky (painting),
  • Paul Klee (painting),
  • Piet Mondrian (painting),
  • Henry Moore (sculpture),
  • Jackson Pollock (painting),
  • Jorge Oteiza (sculpture),
  • Tomie Ohtake (painting, sculpture and engraving),
  • Eric Aho (painting).

See also the meanings of Abstractionism , Realism , Art and Modern Art.

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