Abstract art raises many questions in the minds of those who contemplate it, and this since its appearance in the 20th century. Have you ever found yourself in front of this style of canvas? You are completely dazzled by its beauty and yet you have no idea what it means: characters, a scene of life, nature? How to interpret it?
In front of abstract art paintings, you wonder if it’s a snow-capped mountain reflecting in the sun. If it’s a volcano pouring out its wrath. Besides, is such a representation supposed to mean anything? Did painters like Kandinsky want to express a specific idea? No, reality is often far from this modern art.
If such questions have ever crossed your mind while looking at an abstract work, when visiting a museum for example, then you are reading the right article.
Simple Definition of Abstract Art
What is abstract art? It is an art that is in contradiction with traditional art or figurative art , that which consists in imitating nature and making a more or less exact representation of things. Abstract art is a mixture of shapes and colors , sometimes in a geometric style. As a result, its interpretation is free and leaves room for the imagination. It does not reflect reality, it even ignores it. Nor does it tell a story. To make abstract paintings, artists do not need a model. They create a visual experience by arousing emotions specific to each person.
The founders of Abstract Art
It was in the 20th century , in the early 1910s, that the first abstract canvas was made. This is the painting “Untitled” by Vassily Kandinsky , precursor of this modern movement. It is only composed of lines and colors. Joined, over the years, by other artists, such as Malevich , Mondrian or Kupka , their works respond to a language of their own. Abstract paintings disregard reality.
The two major trends of Abstraction in art
It is ultimately quite simple to understand abstract art. All you need is an open mind and a wild imagination . The first step is to prepare yourself to look beyond what you see. Step away from reality and discover the secrets of the abstract arts.
“Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes…Abstract art allows the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinity of the finite. It is the emancipation of the spirit. It is an exploration into unknown domains.” Arshile Gorky
This conceptual art finds its roots in the artist’s intuition and freedom (for the artists as well as for the spectators). It is the ability to use the imagination to look beyond what is visible . The painter translates intangible emotions. Find out what his will was when he created his work. Free your mind from any visual restrictions. Disregard the real world and all figuration.
Historically, abstract art is an artistic movement that reached its full extent in the 20th century, at the beginning of the 1910s. It first developed in Europe, for example in exhibitions in Paris, then in the United States. It appeared as a reaction to the academic or realistic style. In fact, to more easily understand this concept, think of it as the visual opposite of realistic art . Don’t recognize nature in an abstract composition, imagine it.
The realistic movement, or that of figuration, is an almost exact illustration of reality and the world. On the other hand, abstraction gives the artist the freedom to follow his instincts. The painter creates an aesthetic work of art which he shares with his public.
The abstract, a universal art
Contemporary or classical abstract art works contrary to our Cartesian mind. It’s a much more subtle art that doesn’t need to have a meaning or even an explanation. The primary purpose of abstract art is to encourage the creativity of the viewer , through a set of shapes and color. The person who is going to admire such a painting lets his imagination wander. Everyone lives their own experience, intangible and emotional. His feeling in front of an abstract work of art depends on his personality, his state of mind and his experience. Does painting make sense? Do we feel a particular emotion?
How to understand contemporary Abstract Art?
Let’s start by asking ourselves how abstract works of art are perceived. For years, many have tried to recognize familiar characters or objects in them . Others do not see much interest in it and are content to take a look in passing, visiting a museum in Paris for example.
There is no “right” way to approach the abstract arts and their paintings. The best is still to let your feelings speak if you want to understand the secrets of abstraction. Do you see black on these canvases? This is not necessarily the right color!
It is relatively easy to love a canvas by painters such as Van Gogh or Rembrandt: nature, landscapes, characters… They master technique and aesthetics. Their works are realistic, concrete. It is a definition of the real.
In contrast, to appreciate abstract art, one needs to focus more on how the emotion is evoked than on the realism of the painting. It’s about interpreting shapes and colors. The artist assembles them in the best way, in order to create an aesthetic and modern visual composition. It is a language specific to the painters Kandinsky, Kupka, Malevich or Mondrian. They create nature only with color.
Abstract painting brings together different elements in the same work: space, colors, lines, texture… and ignores reality.
A few simple tricks to appreciate abstraction
Take his time
You don’t have to stand in front of an abstract painting for hours to understand its story. Just take the time you need, admire the shapes, the colors and make your own definition of the works.
age and abstraction
We know that the arts are subjective. And this is precisely the case of abstract art. Everyone sees their truth in it, even children. Let them make their own interpretation… or not. It is not related to the number of years. Kandinsky, Malevich, Kupka were also children before being artists!
Respect the imagination of the artist
Faced with an abstract art painting, try to understand why you like it… or not. The representation made by the painter may simply not be your style. Don’t dismiss it though.
Don’t pay too much attention to the title
Paintings from this art movement often have an extremely vague title, “Composition VII” or “Black Square”. Rather, see it as a freedom to make your own interpretation. It is on purpose that most abstract artists do not give catchy titles to their works. They want you to find the meaning of the web yourself. On the other hand, don’t completely ignore his name. It can help guide your imagination.
Read the explanatory text
The text generally affixed next to the work, most often in a museum or an exhibition, provides you with valuable information on the painter’s career or artistic will. Pay attention to it.
Let the painting move you
Faced with abstract works, free your mind of all thought, disregard what is external. Let yourself be won over by emotion. Observe colors, shapes and textures. What do you feel ? Jackson Pollock said, “Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you.” Let the board ask the questions, not the other way around.
Don’t stress if you don’t feel anything
If you don’t feel any emotion in front of an abstract painting, that’s okay. Each person reacts differently to the same painting. The painter who made it, even in the last century, will not hold it against you.
Don’t ask yourself too many questions
Abstract thinking should be a source of pleasure, and above all not a constraint. How do you feel in front of this painting? The answer must be simple: you like the artist, his style, the color, the movement. Don’t ask yourself too many questions about abstract art. Savor it!
Contrary to figurative art, realism or even cubism, abstraction does not need to have meaning. Artists such as Vassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich or Piet Mondrian do not seek to deliver a message in their paintings. They create their own language, that of emotion, of a world that ignores reality. Everyone imagines their own definition of works.
Finally, just like expressionism, or cubism based on a geometric image, abstract art well deserves its place in the extraordinary circle of the history of fine arts.
Now you can start putting what you learned from this article into practice. There are several abstract paintings. In particular, this abstract painting showing the face of a woman. Or, if you like colors, a multicolored abstract painting will be perfect for your decoration. Do not hesitate to discover them!