The Basics of Abstract Art You Should Know

The Basics of Abstract Art You Should Know

“Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you.”

— Jackson Pollock

You must have come across a painting that sparked curiosity in you and you were taken by its visual power yet bewildered by its meaning. It’s undecipherable but you feel the burning urge to interpret its meaning. That, my friend, is one of many mysterious abstract paintings for you.

On the surface, abstract art is head-scratching-ly enigmatic. Yet some of it is just so insanely gorgeous that you want to go crazy about it. When you look at abstract art with an attempt to decipher the meaning behind it, the work of art makes you loosen your grip on reality and get immersed in the world of imagination.

That’s the beauty of abstract art- visually stunning, sometimes controversial, but always generates discussion, interest, appreciation, and controversy!


Image courtesy: Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) is no accident – Public Delivery

“Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you.” Jackson Pollock

So, What Exactly Is Abstract Art?

Abstract art has no explicit illustrative or representational meaning behind the artwork. This art movement started with this tendency, where boundaries between reality and fantasy are blurred, giving freedom to the artist to create any design that will carry symbolic meaning.

Abstract art often has an obvious and simplistic theme, which reflects the motifs of spontaneous and fleeting ideas. It is believed that abstract art, when painted on canvas, can invoke emotions out of the observer. This perception is due to the courage, vibrancies, and fierceness in geometric lines and disoriented pattern formations in several paintings.

What Makes Abstract Art Different?

Abstract art has not always been appreciated for its authenticity. It has, in fact, taken many years to gain widespread recognition. From Kandinsky to Pollock, the foundations of abstract painting still remain appreciated among true art aficionados.

Abstract art portrays that the human mind is teeming with unseen creativity and our heart is flooded with a tsunami of emotions. When these are fused, without the imposition of any rules, artists can create a painting that’s ambiguous and unclear yet screens our feelings on the blank canvas.

The Birth of Abstract Art

It was beautiful, progressive, innovative, emotive, and mystical.

The concept of abstract art is relatively new when it comes to the history of art. It materialized when artists started to explore their minds and emotions to create a calming sensation that has nothing to do with reality. So if you ask an artist what an abstract piece of art means, they will most likely tell you: “It means whatever you want it to mean“!

Image courtesy:

Color is a power that directly influences the soul.

“The Father” of Abstract Art

As the originator of Abstract Art, Wassily Kandinsky is revered as “The Father” of abstract art. In fact, it’s his artwork that started the trend of abstraction in America during the 1913 Armory Show in New York.

Kandinsky completed his first abstract painting in 1912 whilst he was living in Munich, Germany. Its title is “Composition VIII”, from a set of ten compositions he painted in that year. This masterpiece represents an important milestone for nonrepresentational art. He titled it “Pure Painting”, and described his intention as “an inner necessity … independent of any outside event … [which] decides upon the image.”​​

Kandinsky’s artistic perspective was influenced by his exposure to the avant-garde in art, music, theatre, and conversations with artists in the cafes of Munich. His work is said to have been so revolutionary because of his efforts in creating a “new kind of art,” backed by the abstract shapes, colors, and lines that he used in his paintings.

Understanding Abstract Art

Here’s quoting the father of abstract art Wassily Kandinsky who unraveled the secret to creating and interpreting an abstract masterpiece:

“Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.”

Abstraction is sometimes tricky to get your head around. Difficult at first, but fun once you get familiar with it!

It is the most challenging medium to perform with basic visual qualities such as line, plane, color, shape, form, mass, and texture. The motive is not to illustrate an idea or attempt to portray one.

It’s to spontaneously express their ideas using abstraction. Notice how colors, forms, and textures all connect to create new shapes and patterns. Be aware of the shadows that the overhead lights cast on some parts of the painting while leaving others in darkness.

Image courtesy:

That is beautiful which is produced by the inner need, which springs from the soul.

After all…

Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically with his eyes… Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.

– Arshile Gorky

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