Abstract art is any art that isn't intended to be a visually accurate depiction of the physical world. This can be contrasted with realism that depicts the the real world as it is perceived by the senses. There are many grey areas between these two extremes with art that is somewhat abstract. The following are the basic characteristics of abstract art.
Subjective RealityAbstract art may depict the subjective reality of the artist such as imagination, emotion or ideas.Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1888
Style & TechniqueOne of the myths surrounding abstract art is that it always depicts subjective reality. This isn't true as art may be abstract due to the application of a style or technique. For example, Cubism that stylizes a scene with the geometrization of form or Futurism that depicts overlapping forms that capture the passing of time. Both of these techniques can be seen in this work by Marcel Duchamp.Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase No 2, 1912
SubjectAbstract art may depict intangible elements of a subject, scene and moment such as mood as opposed to the visual realities of the scene.Edvard Munch,Vampire, 1895
Color & LightColors and lighting that are stylized or subjective. For example, Pablo Picasso's blue period in which the artist produced monochromatic works of mostly blue between 1901 and 1904. This reflected a somber mood as opposed to the realities of the scene and subjects he painted.(Pablo Picasso, Woman with Bangs, 1902)
SymbolismAbstract works may express ideas as symbols, metaphor and allegory.Gustav Klimt, Hope II, 1908
MinimalismMinimalism is art that reduces elements such as form and color to their most basic incarnations. Western minimalism often resembles modern design with its use of basic geometric shapes. Due to its similarity with design and its sterile qualities it is often used as an element of commercial interior decoration. It is common to confuse abstract art with minimalism. Minimalism in art is always abstract. However, abstract art isn't always minimalism. Abstract art can be unbelievably complex and is far more diverse than minimalism.Kazimir Malevich, Suprematism, 1915
Free ExpressionAbstract art often breaks the rules of its time and place as an expression of the unconstrained freedom of the artist. For example, Vincent van Gogh plays with perspective to give the work Bedroom in Arles a dream-like quality.Vincent van Gogh, Bedroom in Arles, 1888
NotesThe majority of well known modern and postmodern art is at least somewhat abstract. As such, abstraction is the rule not the exception.
|Definition||Art that isn't intended to be a visually accurate depiction of the physical world.|
|Commonly Confused With||Minimalism|
|Key Points||All art can be placed on a scale between complete abstraction and complete realism with many grey areas in-between.|
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