What is Abstract Art?

by Annie Saxena on Feb 24, 2023

What is Abstract Art?

We can at least presume that since you've begun reading this, you're interested in learning more about this baffling art form that defies definition and artistic categorization, regardless of how you feel about abstract art in general or how much you dislike it or don't understand it.

About a century has passed since the invention of abstract art. Some people even claim that abstraction originated in the thousands of years-old cave drawings, and that it has survived for generations despite shifting art trends, manifestos, and testimony.

These abstract aspects were used by artists before the 20th century to describe, illustrate, or recreate the world of nature and human civilization, with exposition taking precedence over expressive purpose.

What is Abstract Art?

The definition of abstraction is the separation of a concept from objective referents. This refers to removing a representation from any literal, representational reference points in the visual arts. Non-representational art is another term for abstract art.

Abstract art employs the visual language of shape, form, colour, and line to produce a composition that is somewhat independent from outside visual cues.

Painting, sculpture, or graphic works of abstract art, often known as nonobjective or nonrepresentational art, play little to no role in depicting objects from the outside world. Form, colour, line, tone, and texture are all examples of what is referred to be abstract art elements.

Six Components that Make Up Abstract Art

The six fundamental components of abstract art are line, colour, texture ,form, shape, and value.

The qualities of an artist's artistic style will be determined by how they employ and combine these aspects.

The Key Points

The Initial Signs Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Cubism all contributed to abstraction. All three contributed to the realisation that art need not be representative.

The Motion. Early in the 20th century, modern abstract painting emerged. For the time, it was completely radical. Artists started to produce simple arguments that had little to no connection to the "actual" world.

The Father. Wassily Kandinsky is frequently given credit by historians for producing paintings of floating, non-representational forms as early as 1912. The identity of the first artist to produce abstract art as we know it will always remain a mystery. During the 1913 Armory Exhibition, his creations introduced abstraction to the United States.

The Present. Modern abstract art can be seen in a variety of media. Both two and three dimensions exist. It might be big or little. Moreover, a variety of materials and surfaces can be used to create abstract art. It can be used entirely abstractly or in conjunction with representational art. In their nonobjective work, artists frequently emphasise other aesthetic elements including colour, form, texture, scale, and more.

How has Abstract Art Changed Over Time?

Abstract art developed after its inception in the early 1900s as several painters experimented with the genre. One of the founders of abstract painting in the 20th century, Piet Mondrian is known for his use of geometric motifs in his works. Jackson Pollock made his art famous by splattering or pouring paint over a horizontal canvas, which allowed him to see and paint it from all sides. To produce his frenetic, emotional marks, Cy Twombly turned back to surrealism automatism, suppressing his conscious control and giving the unconscious mind considerable influence.

Even today, abstract art is still developing. Nick Malone investigates the line between abstraction and realism, enticing the eye to travel across an archaeology of marks, words, and textures. Colorist Barbara Krupp's paintings experiment boldly with form. Lee Ellis' portraits combine surface and depth to express the inner anguish of his subjects.

What is Abstract Expressionism?

A trend inside a movement, abstract expressionism is regarded as the second wave of abstract art, emerging in the 1940s and centred in New York City. This was the first American art movement to have a significant international impact. It was heavily influenced by surrealism and featured painters like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. The movement immediately had a reputation for being intense, anarchic, and nihilistic. "It is far preferable to depict the wonderful spirit of the sea than to paint all of its little ripples," observed painter Jay Meuser, encapsulating the anarchy of abstract expressionism.

One modern artist that carries the abstract expressionism banner is Matthew Dibble. He brings a strong sense of form and structure to his new job as an artist after working for decades in the construction industry. Dutch observes an army of ferociously dancing black and grey marks. The work has a quick, rebellious quality to it, as though the silhouettes have been emancipated from stifling framework. Yet, Rabid Shakespeare combines form and formlessness, with masses of tumultuous, fervent brushstrokes calmed and chiselled into place by strong, clear lines.

What Use Does Abstract Art Serve?

Many people are unsure of what abstract art is exactly or what function it serves. Like earlier forms of painting, abstract art does not depict scenes or stories. In contrast to figurative art or photography, it does not produce a visual record of an occasion, a person, or a scene.

You'll need an open mind and some creativity to understand abstract art. It's crucial to understand that creating and appreciating abstract art are very personal activities.

Abstraction enables painters to depict abstract feelings on a canvas. It's not meant to be technically accurate or to make a point to the audience. Instead, the goal of abstract art is to express the individuality of the creator.

There has been much discussion in our culture about the meaning of abstract art and or art in general. Many would contend that art simply exists and does not require a reason.

What Exactly Is an Abstract Painting?

Shape, form, colour, and line are used as visual languages in abstract painting. These are the languages that abstract painters use to construct works that stand alone from external visual references. Despite having been around for more than a century, abstract painting is nevertheless seen as a current or contemporary style.

During the turn of the 20th century, abstraction emerged. Cubism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism, three other key turn-of-the-century trends, are where abstraction got its start.

These movements contributed to the realisation and introduction of the idea that artworks may be non-representative, which helped pave the way for abstraction.

Styles of Abstract Art

Light- or Color-Related Abstract Art

This type of semi-abstraction can be seen in a lot of the modern and impressionist art of the late 19th century. Light and pigment swirls are used in this kind of artwork to abstract the topic from its true context.

Examples include William Turner, Joseph Mallord, and Claude Monet.


One of the earliest types of contemporary abstraction was cubism. Even when it completely reinterprets a real scene or object, it frequently nevertheless draws inspiration from it. Subjects that are vaguely recognisable are painted in novel ways such that they appear broken or geometrical.

Examples include Yoel Benharrouche, Wassily Kandinsky, Georges Braque, and Pablo Picasso.

Abstract Expressionism or gestural abstraction

In the 1940s and 1950s, American abstract expressionists invented the gestural abstract style. The emphasis is on the painterly application of colour and texture, frequently accomplished using unconventional painting methods like dripping and splashing.

Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Robert Motherwell, and Calman Shemi are a few examples.

Abstract geometric design

Blocks of colour are used in geometric abstraction to produce vibrant, graphic-inspired artwork. It emphasises colour blocks and the use of geometry to produce exact shapes.

Piet Mondrian and Theo Van Doesburg are two examples.

Abstract art that is intuitive or emotional

Block colours can also be used in this design to create geometric abstraction. Geometric abstraction, however, is unnatural and nearly mathematical. While drawing its inspiration from nature, intuitive abstraction does it in a non-representational manner.

Mark Rothko, Jean Arp, and Barbara Hepworth are among examples.


Marbling is arguably the first example of abstract art and predates many other abstract art movements. It makes little attempt to represent reality and instead focuses on the blending and combining of colours.

Suggestions: Suminagashi, a type of traditional Japanese marbling.

Line Art

As the name implies, line art makes drawings and paintings by using purely abstract lines and forms. Line art frequently features surrealist subjects and has a graphic aesthetic.

For instance, Wassily Kandinsky and Joan Miró.

Art with Curves, Abstract

An ancient form of abstraction known as curvilinear abstraction is closely related to Islamic and Celtic art. It conveys ethereal symbols like spiral knots.

Abstract Minimalist Art

Abstract minimalism reduces a work of art "back to the basics." It usually has a geometric shape and eliminates all allusions to and linkages with the outside world. Modern sculptures frequently use this minimalist abstract style, which is also prominent in paintings.

Renowned Paintings of Abstract Art

Piet Mondrian, “Broadway Boogie Woogie” (1942–43)

One of the most significant paintings of the 20th century is frequently cited as being Kandinsky's Composition VII. It is a large picture with little to no connection to the natural world, as well as overlapping amorphous forms, strong lines, and a wide range of colours. Before to beginning the painting, Kandinsky made more than thirty sketches and studies to carefully plan out his choice of forms and colours. Composition VII, according to art historians, shows a number of Biblical themes, including the Resurrection, the Day of Judgment, and the Garden of Eden.

Mark Rothko, “Orange, Red, Yellow” (1961)

One of Mark Rothko's iconic Color Field works is Orange, Red, Yellow. Rothko applied multiple thin layers of paint and distributed them with a rag or brush on an unprepared canvas to create his composition. These fine paint washes gave the hues a certain luminosity that illuminating the canvas. This exceptional work by the artist was one of the most expensive paintings ever sold when it was purchased by Christie's for $86,882,500 in 2012 from the estate of art collector David Pincus.

Joan Miro, “Bleu II” (1961)

After achieving success and notoriety, the Spanish painter Joan Miro produced Bleu II, the second painting in a series of three. The canvas has a deep blue tone that is accentuated by a red slash and strategically placed black strokes. The Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris is the current owner of the trio of works.

Jackson Pollock, “Blue Poles” (1952)

One of Pollock's most well-known pieces is still Blue Poles. Because Pollock believed that giving a work a name or title brought characteristics to it while a number allowed it to remain neutral, it was initially titled Number 11. His distinctive drip painting technique is used in the composition, which also includes embedded glass fragments, prints, and aluminium paint on the canvas. It was acquired by the National Gallery of Australia in 1973 and is still one of the most significant pieces on display at the institution.

What Constitutes Excellent Abstract Art?

Subjectivity is what distinguishes good abstract art. Authenticity might be a criterion for evaluating abstract art. The significance of abstract art is mostly derived from its capacity to communicate an honest directness and immediate expression.

Both private art collectors and commercial clients frequently choose abstract paintings. When exhibited and appreciated at home, abstract art can go well with contemporary interior design.

How do you Make an Abstract?

A highly creative process, creating abstract art frequently involves experimenting, investigation, and intuition. The general stages you can take to produce an abstract work of art are as follows:

assemble your resources: Choose the supplies you'll need first, such as paint, brushes, canvas, paper, or other items.

Decide on your colours: Choose the colour scheme you want to employ. Choose colours that mirror the feelings or mood you wish to express after giving it some thought.

Test out different mark-making methods to produce fascinating textures and patterns, such as splattering, dripping, smearing, or scraping.

Examine various compositions: Try out different arrangements for the lines, shapes, and colours on your canvas or piece of paper.

Don't stress about making something that "makes sense"; keep in mind that abstract art is not intended to reflect anything in particular. Instead, concentrate on producing something that resonates with you personally.

Keep building: When you're finished creating your piece of art, add more layers and features. If you're unhappy with the course your artwork is taking, don't be afraid to change it or start over.

Do not be scared to trust your intuition and allow your imagination lead you because abstract art-making is a personal and individual process.


In conclusion, abstract art is a kind of artwork that places a greater emphasis on colour, line, shape, and form than it does on realism or items that are intended to be representational. It was born in the early 20th century as a response to established representational art genres, and it is still developing today with new styles and methods.

Abstract art gives creators a non-representational outlet for their feelings, thoughts, and inner selves. It enables spectators to give the artwork their own unique interpretation, giving it a very individualised and subjective experience.

In order to get the intended effect, artists frequently employ a range of techniques and materials when creating abstract art. Abstract art needs experimentation, investigation, and intuition. In the end, abstract art is a potent form of self-expression that enables creators to share their distinctive viewpoints and meaningfully engage with their audience.