Bose Krishnamachari, Stretched Bodies 5, abstract art

Abstract Art

What is Abstract Art?

Abstract Art is a new artistic, a style modern art that does not represent an accurate depiction of the visual reality. The representation of real is minimized either completely or partially - only visual elements of external world are extracted on the image.  It is also applied to art that utilizes various geometric shapes, structural changes in the subject and colors. Abstract Art carries a moral dimension; however, it can be seen to stand for values like - simplicity, purity, order and spirituality. Art was raised in the search of a new artistic language that seemingly said “modern” as opposed to the pure representation of image.  

An issue that crops up while defining abstract art in terms of representation is - “painting a fictional subject or landscape that does not represent anything in reality” but might not qualify as abstraction. Abstract art has to hold the two adages that it is not representational and does not represent anything.  

History of Abstract Art 

Abstract Art originated in the 19th century; Russian-born Wassily Kandinsky had initiated this movement. His distinctive perspective on the shape and functional parameters of art had visualized sound as color.  This unusual perception has led to the guiding force in the evolution of his artistic style. However, modern abstract art emerged in whole in the early 20th century.  

If we look at the Roman origins, then the term ‘abstract’ means ‘dragging something away’. In Latin, it translates to “quite forceful”, or even “violent”. It is known as a purposeful indication of distancing, detaching, extraction and relocation. Modern abstract art did not originate from the back door of art history; hence it had also been offered in a wealth of guises by the artists from a great variety of perspectives.   

Modern abstract art manifests the most profound spiritual and philosophical concerns of the 20th century person. The 1980s briefly outlined the evolution of modern abstraction by presenting new challenges and thereby offering new opportunities for Abstract art paintings.   

Unique facts of Abstract Art

Abstract art is one of the basic forms of artistic expressions.  It seeks the simple representation of external things. It presents the plastic situations that focus more on the formal and structural aspects, elaborating the plastic language for creating an autonomous effect while moving with alluring effects.  

Types of Abstract Art

  1. Drip and Splash Art: The splatter images and drip textures use unique techniques adding an energized and eclectic feel to the canvas. Abandoning the traditional idea of composition, the idea of ‘all over painting’ was devised.  The design elements flow from right to left redefining the existing art styles and describe pictorial spaces.
  2. Color blocking: American artist Mark Rothko had taken art to the new levels of abstraction. The dramatic potential of the block color without any landscape or human figure had revolutionized the essence and designs of the abstract art paintings making the arrangements of rectangular panes in the bold hues unleash the power of colors.  
  3. Marbling Art: The very old Japanese marbling art tradition, Suminagashiis one of the earliest forms of abstract art. The art involves marbling an absorbent surface like fabric with colored ink, plain paper and water solution. This abstract art comprises of dense patterns of various colors that are sublime and scintillating. What is more beautiful about marble Abstract art is that they are unique and cannot be replicated easily. The technique also gives artists the joy of playing around with the spontaneity of the flow of colors. Contemporary artists use both watered acrylic paints and traditional inks to create abstract art paintings.  
  4. Cubism Art: Artists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso attempted to emphasize the two-dimensional aspects of the picture plane. They favored straight - line construction. The abstract art style, Cubism, employs identifiable subjects that usually appear fragmented and geometrical. 
  5. Line Art: This art form combines simple line paintings and drawings with surrealistic subject matter. The new style of abstract art, these paintings find beauty in the simplicity of lines. Majority of these artworks were influenced by the printing process, contributing towards the graphic feel of art. Spanish artist Joan Miro developed this new style of abstract art paintings. It contributed towards the graphic feel of the art creating logos and icons to communicate concepts. 
  6. Memphis Art: Initiated by a group of skilled Italian designers, artisans and architects in 1981, Memphis style emphasizes on bold color, pattern and geometry. It touches a range of art styles. Memphis Art is a real combination of something fun with an experimental energy.
  7. Halftone Art: This style of Abstract Art has shaped a completely new cultural identity of abstract art. The Halftone style of Abstract Art can be described as the dotted effect where images can easily get fragmented into a series of dots. Halftone Art focuses on celebrity, mass production and the rapidly expanding industries of advertising, TV, radio as well as print media. 
  8. Surrealism: Though not strictly abstract, surrealism aims to represent a distorted version of reality by manipulating imagery of the real world. Influenced by the concepts of psychoanalysis, several artists such as Rene Magritte, Salvador Dalí, and Frida Kahlo had propounded a fresh style of abstract art paintings. Characterized by juxtaposing fantasy-like, quasi-naturalistic images together, their works sought to expand the creative potential of the mind.
  9. Abstract relief and sculpture: Inspired by forces, places and nature, this painting explores relationships between the two forms presented next to each other. Cast in stone, metal and wood, the monumental abstract sculptures represent the pinnacle of the Modernist movement between the 1930s and 1960s. 

Abstract artists you must know about: 

  1. Wassily Kandinsky (1866 - 1944)

The Russian Painter, Wassily Kandinsky was known as the ‘Father of Abstract Art Painting.” He had participated in various artistic movements before abstractionism like impressionism. He had undergone a short expressionist phase. He concentrated over the language of shapes and colors and introduced inventiveness into the art.  

  1. Franz Marc (1880 - 1916)

A German painter, Franz Marc was passionate about the art of children, primitive and mentally ill people. He chose animal studies as some of his favorite themes. Under the influence of Kandinsky, he understood that the essence of beings is revealed in the art of abstraction. 

  1. Jean Dubuffet (1901 - 1985)

The French painter - Jean Dubuffet was inspired by the art of children and extremely enthusiastic people. He had searched various forms of art and explored the raw art. He did not give importance to historical and cultural references and looked for ideas within himself.  

  1. Piet Mondrian (1872 - 1944)

Dutch pioneer of abstract art had developed the beginning of the landscape to abstract geometric works of the most rigorous type. His canvases were painted from pure, intense colors and straight lines. 


1. When did abstract modern art come to India? 

- The abstract modern art had come to India in cubist and semi-cubist style during the 1960s and 1970s. 

2. What is the intent of abstract art? 

- Abstract Art is influenced by the ideas and philosophies of abstraction.  It is based on ideas and philosophies, color, lines and shapes (form).  

3. What are the famous paintings of abstract art? 

- The famous paintings of abstract art are Kandinsky’s Composition VII; Malevich’s Black Square; Miro’s Bleu II and Pollock’s Blue Poles.