Abstract Art

Written by Charles Peacock
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Abstract art is loosely defined as art which doesn't follow traditional rules of representational accuracy. In other words, abstract artists focus on certain characteristics of the thing they are painting or reproducing (such as the shape, colors, or shading) and simplify or exaggerate these characteristics instead of producing a traditional lifelike image. In doing so, they create a new way of looking at the world.

The History of Abstract Art

While abstract painting was a long time in the making, it really became took shape in the late 19th century. It was during this period that artists began to deviate from traditional representational art, instead choosing to focus on the things that they found particularly interesting about a specific image. Some of the first abstract paintings were characterized by distorted lighting and perspective.

Abstract painting became an important (and even dominating) type of art around the turn of the 20th century. Around this time, artists like Pablo Picasso and George Braque began to experiment more heavily with manipulating imagery. Their experiments have been referred to as "art for art's sake"--where the image is more important than the subject.

Wassily Kandinsky, a Russian painter who lived from 1866 to 1944, was one of the most important early abstract artists. He was one of the first people to pursue pure abstraction by creating works that looked less and less like a specific naturally occurring thing and more like an image created for its own sake. Abstract art was not limited to the world of painting--sculptors were also in many ways leaders of this movement.


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