Artistic works that do not aim to accurately depict visual reality are known as abstract art. Rather than relying on representation, an abstract drawing includes lines, shapes, colors, forms, and gestural marks to convey meaning. Abstract artists employ a range of techniques, often blending traditional methods with experimental concepts, to create their work.


This abstract art guide explores the history of abstraction, including its development and connection to Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism, as well as the latest trends in abstract art. If you're interested in purchasing an abstract painting, this resource is worth checking out.

According to Jackson Pollock, abstract art represents "energy and motion made visible." He explained how this art form allowed him to express a part of his psyche that had previously been suppressed. With abstract art, artists were no longer constrained to accurately depicting the world around them, but could instead prioritize instinct and the unconscious mind in their creations

History Behind the Abstract Art

Abstract art emerged as a significant artistic movement in the early 20th century, as artists sought to break away from traditional representational art forms. The origins of abstract art can be traced back to the work of artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, who sought to create works of art that were more spiritual and expressive than their representational counterparts.

Kandinsky, along with other artists such as Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, played a critical role in the development of abstract art. They rejected the notion that art should simply depict the physical world and instead sought to create works of art that could evoke emotion and stimulate the viewer's imagination.

The term "abstract art" was coined by the critic Walter Pater in the 19th century, but it was not until the early 20th century that the movement gained widespread recognition. Abstract art was initially met with resistance and skepticism from traditional art critics, who viewed it as a departure from the accepted norms of art.

Characteristics of Abstract Art

An abstract drawing is characterized by its departure from representational art forms and the use of non-representational elements to convey meaning. The following are some of the key characteristics of abstract art:


Abstract art does not attempt to depict the physical world accurately. Instead, it uses forms, lines, shapes, colors, and textures to evoke emotions and ideas.


An abstract painting is highly expressive, often emphasizing emotion over representation. Artists use the language of color, shape, and texture to create a visual language that conveys their emotional and intellectual responses to the world.


Abstract art is often referred to as "non-objective" art, as it does not represent any physical objects or figures. Instead, it is created purely for its own sake, as an exploration of form and color.


Abstract art often emphasizes the gesture and movement of the artist's hand in creating the work. Artists use brushstrokes, drips, and other techniques to create a sense of movement and energy in the work.


Abstract art often simplifies forms and shapes, reducing them to their most essential elements. This simplification emphasizes the emotional and expressive qualities of the work.


Abstract art is often experimental, with artists exploring new techniques, materials, and approaches to create their work. This experimentation has led to a wide range of styles and approaches within the abstract art movement.

Overall, abstract art is a highly expressive and experimental art form that emphasizes emotion, form, and color over representation. It has played a significant role in the development of modern art and remains a vital and influential movement to this day.

Famous Artists in Abstract Art

Abstract art has been practiced by a vast number of artists throughout history, each with its unique style and approach. The following are some of the most well-known abstract artists and their contributions to the movement:

Wassily Kandinsky (1866 - 1944)

Composition VII

Kandinsky's abstract style was heavily influenced by his interest in spirituality, particularly in theosophy and the idea of synesthesia, where different senses are combined. He believed that art had the power to evoke emotions and spiritual experiences in the viewer, and his use of color and form was intended to create a sense of harmony and transcendence. Kandinsky's early works were representational, but he gradually moved towards abstraction, culminating in his famous "Composition" series, which featured bold geometric shapes and vibrant colors. These works marked a new direction in art and inspired many other artists to explore the possibilities of abstraction. Art lovers can find oil painting reproductions of his famous masterpieces at stores like 1st Art Gallery.

Kazimir Malevich (1879 - 1935)

Black Square

Malevich was a key figure in the development of Suprematism, an abstract art movement that emphasized geometric forms and primary colors. His best-known work is the Black Square, which is considered one of the most important works of abstract art ever created.

Malevich's Suprematist art was a radical departure from the traditional representational art of his time. He sought to create a universal language of abstract art that would transcend cultural and national boundaries, and his use of simple geometric forms and primary colors was intended to achieve this goal. Malevich believed that art should be a tool for the transformation of society, and his Suprematist works were intended to reflect the utopian ideals of the Russian Revolution. Despite their abstract nature, his paintings were deeply political and expressed his vision of a new, more egalitarian society.

Piet Mondrian (1872 - 1944)

Broadway Boogie Woogie

Mondrian was a Dutch painter who developed a style of abstract art that emphasized the use of primary colors and straight lines. Piet Mondrian’s work had a significant influence on the development of modern abstract art.

Mondrian's unique approach to abstract art was informed by his interest in spiritualism and his belief in the harmony of the universe. He sought to create a universal visual language that would express the underlying principles of nature and the cosmos. Mondrian's legacy in the development of modern abstract art is immense, and his influence can be seen in the work of countless artists across the globe. Today, his paintings continue to inspire new generations of artists seeking to explore the possibilities of abstraction and the visual language of color and form.

Mark Rothko (1903 - 1970)

black on gray 1969

Rothko was another prominent figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement. His work often features large, rectangular blocks of color, which are intended to evoke emotion and spiritual contemplation.

Rothko's paintings are often associated with the Color Field movement, which emerged in the 1950s and emphasized the use of large, flat areas of color to create a sense of depth and dimensionality. His use of color was highly nuanced and complex, with subtle variations in tone and hue creating a sense of depth and movement within the painting. Rothko believed that his paintings could have a transformative effect on the viewer, creating a sense of spiritual transcendence and emotional release. His later works, such as the "Black on Gray" series, are highly evocative and have a meditative quality that invites the viewer to engage in deep contemplation. Today, Rothko is regarded as one of the most important abstract painters of the 20th century.


In conclusion, abstract art is a rich and diverse movement that has played a significant role in the development of modern art. Characterized by its departure from representational forms and emphasis on color, form, and emotion, abstract art has inspired countless artists to explore new techniques and approaches to creating art. From the early pioneers of the movement, such as Kandinsky and Malevich, to the later innovators like Pollock and Rothko, abstract art continues to evolve and challenge our perceptions of what art can be. Its influence can be seen not only in painting but also in sculpture, architecture, and design. As we continue to push the boundaries of artistic expression, abstract art will undoubtedly remain a vibrant and integral part of the art world for years to come. Whether we are drawn to its bold use of color and form or its ability to evoke powerful emotions, abstract art has left an indelible mark on the world of art and will continue to do so in the future. If you want to learn more about particular paintings of this style, search for them on 1st Art Gallery's website.