What is Abstract Art?
A definition of abstract art is from the Oxford dictionary – ‘Art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colours, and textures’
According to The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy – abstract art is ‘a trend in painting and sculpture in the twentieth century, art which seeks to be break away from traditional representation of physical objects. It explores the relationships of form and colours, whereas more traditional art represents the world in recognisable images’
Abstract art may not be your choice, however it cannot be ignored that abstract art is very much part of the contemporary art scene. There are different movements that are using abstract ideas to varying degrees and are dominating contemporary art in exhibitions, art fairs, auctions. Followers of contemporary art have developed a respect for the important place abstract art ideas have in todays art world.
The term ‘abstract art’ is frequently used, but many could not answer the question ‘What is abstract art?
There is a big debate amongst experts as to when abstract art was born. The majority consider the period around the 1910s to be the birth of abstract art when the artist Wassily Kandinsky painted Picture of the Circle in 1911. Other experts argue the the origins of abstract art can be found in the 19th century in the works of James McNeill Whistler and even Claude Monet. These experts argue that both Whistler and Monet placed greater emphasis on visual sensation than the depiction of objects. However it was in the 1910s that abstract art began to attract and interest many more.
The art world uses a number of definitions of abstract art due to the complexities of this movement. Can there be a coherent definition? Abstractionists use visual language in shape, color, form and line to create compositions that exist with a degree of independence from visual references. Abstract art does not depict people, places, its creators do not paint or sculpt with representational interpretation of a subject. Abstract artist communicate with viewers in an attempt to understand reality, the common position is that ‘reality is subjective’ and it is the viewers choice to define it. Abstract art is non-representational meaning that those who embrace abstraction depart from accurate representation – this departure can be slight, partial or complete.
Abstract art exists along a continuum. Art that aims to give the appearance of being real and true can be described as slight abstract in theory since perfect representation is exclusive to photo realistic art.
Artwork that alters colour and form in more conspicuous ways can be described as partially abstract.
Completely abstract works of art do not have any resemblance or reference to anything recognisable.
It can be stated however that all forms of abstract art use colour, form and visual sensation to show that reality is subjective.
Featured painting ‘Feel the Sparks’ by Michelle Hold