Abstract Art Definition

by Alina Livneva

10 October '18

Abstract Art Definition and Types of Abstract Art

How do we define abstract art

How do we define abstraction?

A trend in painting and sculpture in the twentieth century. Abstraction breaks away from the traditional representation of physical objects. It explores the relationships of forms and colors.

Abstract art definition

Abstraction is a departure from reality which releases the creative energy of people and provides them with the freedom to explore their minds and emotions in a way which was impossible in traditional styles of art. The abstract is an expression connecting the feelings and vibes than the usual perception of realism. We may define the abstract as a non-figurative art; it is not either objective or representational.

Abstraction is a product of modernity, where boundaries between reality and fantasy start to blur.

The viewer perception is one of departure from the imagery of reality. It places your mind in a continuum of energetic inflow or outflow. Some partially abstract works could keep you in the conscious realm however total abstraction has no connection to our knowledge. One could say abstraction is artists drawing how they feel. The abstract is not about making copies of real life either about giving the impression. In fact, depending on the artists, abstraction became about the process itself.

Babylonian Human (2016)
Babylonian Human (2016)
Status: Available
By appointment only

Abstract art history

Abstraction emerged at the turn of the 20th century and focuses on exploring color and form. Unlike other styles, abstraction does not portray objects as they appear in real life. Before the emergence of this style, artists focused on illustrating human civilization and the world of nature. Abstract artworks experiment with the use of texture, tone, and light perception. Through abstract works, artists express their feelings rather than certain objects or scenes. Early abstraction was represented by movements such as:

Abstract art movement

Cubism - Dadaism - Surrealism - Fauvism

Before World War I, artists in Europe started creating fundamentally abstract artworks where no recognizable objects were portrayed. However, these initiatives were not supported by the majority of even progressive artists. During War, two new influential schools emerged in Europe which further promoted the development of abstraction. These schools were Dada (in Zurich) and De Stijl (in the Netherlands). In the 1950s, development of abstraction was fueled by the works of the powerful movement - Abstract Expressionism, which appeared in the United States and soon spread around the world. Other popular forms included:

Suprematism - Neo-Plasticism - Art Informel - De Stijl

It is important to note that the roots of abstraction can be found in Post-Impressionism, which appeared in France before the turn of the 20th century. Early forms of abstract artworks included illustrations of people with the use of angles and planes. One of the bright examples of such techniques is pointillism, where artists used points to illustrate different places and people.

Connection Of Civilizations (2017)
Connection Of Civilizations (2017)
Status: Available
By appointment only

The nature of abstraction

There is no consensus about the definition and abstraction nature. Nevertheless, this is a legitimate style of art. In fact, abstract artworks can mean many different things for a person, thus, giving him or her a lot of freedom and room for creativity. Art abstract allows people to explore things that they see in their mind rather than with their eyes. There is a distinction between creating artworks from forms that are not drawn from the visible world and abstracting from appearances.

Types of abstract art

There are many ways to classify abstract art. One of the approaches divides types of abstract art into the following groups:

- Curvilinear abstract art -

Curvilinear abstract art has its roots in Celtic art. This style involves the use of interlace patterns, knots (8 basic types), and spirals (such as triskelion). The curvilinear style is characterized by smooth flowing curved lines which are used to form abstract patterns like swirls, circles, and spirals. Sometimes these curving lines are used to represent human facial features as well. In this form of abstract art, you will not find any right angles or straight lines.

Curvilinear abstract images types of abstract art
Curvilinear abstract

- Color abstract art -

Color abstraction is characterized by the use of color to make the objects appear as detached from reality. The color-related or light-related abstract art can be observed in the works of Oscar Claude Monet and Joseph Mallord William Turner. This type of abstract art is characterized by a swirl of pigment in every painting which eventually makes the pigment indistinguishable.

Color related abstract images types of abstract art
Color related abstract

- Abstract geometric art -

Abstract geometric art appeared in 1908 and was represented by such movements as Cubism. As its name suggests, geometric abstraction is a form of abstract art which uses geometric forms and shapes like squares, triangles, rectangles, and circles. As art styles became more and more boundless in the 20th century, geometric abstraction gradually gained in popularity. Unlike art from the Renaissance period which was underpinned by the logic of perspective in an attempt to make objects as real and lifelike as possible, geometric abstraction is quite the opposite because of its two-dimensional approach. Moreover, this art form strays far from representing real-life objects. Theo van Doesburg, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian.

Geometric abstract  images define abstract art
Geometric abstract

- Abstract Expressionism -

Abstract Expressionism united the painters who filled their canvases with fields of color and abstract forms, but also those who attacked their canvases with vigorous gestural expressionism. They were committed to art as expressions of the self, born out of profound emotion and universal themes.

Abstract Expressionism define abstract art
Abstract Expressionism

- Emotional abstract art -

Abstract art showing emotion employs abstraction to represent nature, unlike geometric art which is completely anti-nature.

Emotional or intuitive abstract images abstract art definition
Emotional or intuitive abstract

- Gestural abstract art -

Gestural abstract art refers to a particular process of making art. In gesture art, the process of creating paintings becomes central because artists of this style often use brushes in unconventional ways and the brushwork is in many cases rapid and loose. Here, the subject of the painting is not important; rather it is the way it gets painted. While most art forms have a premeditated approach to applying paint, gestural abstract art depends on intuition.

Gestural abstract images abstract images abstract art definition
Gestural abstract

- Minimalist abstract art -

Finally, minimalist abstract art is stripped of any external associations and references. As geometric abstraction gained popularity in the 20th century, it slowly paved the way for minimalist abstract art. As its name suggests, minimalist abstract art or minimal art uses geometric shapes, mostly squares and rectangles in an overly simplified manner. Unlike geometric abstraction which is solely based on a two-dimensional approach, minimalist abstract art can also be three-dimensional in nature.

Minimalist abstract images abstract images abstract art definition
Minimalist abstract

Abstract art popularity

Abstraction has become so popular in our time because it requires artists and viewers to use more of their imagination. When looking at an abstract piece, for example, the human mind starts processing information in a different way than it is when dealing with figurative art.

Most abstract artworks leave many details unspecified, thus, prompting the human mind to come up with these details through imagination.

This is a very pleasurable and satisfying process. It develops human creativity and makes us think outside the box.

Abstract art popularity grows in the modern world because viewers feel a connection with the colors or forms in these artworks without being restricted to a certain theme or subject-matter.

On the other hand, abstract painting helps artists to express their creative energy without limitations, which is very relieving for many people in the modern fast-paced world. Moreover, abstract canvas painting is currently recognized as an effective method of therapy and meditation.

It is important to understand that there is no “right” way of interpreting abstract artworks. Different people may see different things in these artworks, depending on their life experiences, emotional state, and a myriad of other factors. This provides both artists and viewers unprecedented freedom to interpret artworks the way they want.

About author Alina Livneva was born 1985 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She studied at Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts. Educated in Russia and the United States. Lives in Miami. Has also lived in Russia. Collections expert, exhibitions and loans. E:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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