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Abstract art

Abstract art

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Abstract art uses a visual language
Visual language
A visual language is a system of communication using visual elements. Speech as a means of communication cannot strictly be separated from the whole of human communicative activity which includes the visual and the term 'language' in relation to vision is an extension of its use to describe the...

 of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective
Perspective (visual)
Perspective, in context of vision and visual perception, is the way in which objects appear to the eye based on their spatial attributes; or their dimensions and the position of the eye relative to the objects...

 and an attempt to reproduce an illusion of visible reality. The arts of cultures other than the European had become accessible and showed alternative ways of describing visual experience to the artist. By the end of the 19th century many artists felt a need to create a new kind of art which would encompass the fundamental changes taking place in technology, science and philosophy. The sources from which individual artists drew their theoretical arguments were diverse, and reflected the social and intellectual preoccupations in all areas of Western culture at that time.

Abstract art, nonfigurative art, nonobjective art, and nonrepresentational art are loosely related terms. They are similar, although perhaps not of identical meaning.

Abstraction indicates a departure from reality in depiction of image
Image
An image is an artifact, for example a two-dimensional picture, that has a similar appearance to some subject—usually a physical object or a person.-Characteristics:...

ry in art. This departure from accurate representation can be only slight, or it can be partial, or it can be complete. Abstraction exists along a continuum. Even art that aims for verisimilitude of the highest degree can be said to be abstract, at least theoretically, since perfect representation is likely to be exceedingly elusive. Artwork which takes liberties, altering for instance color and form in ways that are conspicuous, can be said to be partially abstract. Total abstraction bears no trace of any reference to anything recognizable. In geometric abstraction, for instance, one is unlikely to find references to naturalistic entities. Figurative art
Figurative art
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork—particularly paintings and sculptures—which are clearly derived from real object sources, and are therefore by definition representational.-Definition:...

 and total abstraction are almost mutually exclusive. But figurative
Figurative art
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork—particularly paintings and sculptures—which are clearly derived from real object sources, and are therefore by definition representational.-Definition:...

 and representational
Representation (arts)
Representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements...

 (or realistic
Realism (visual arts)
Realism in the visual arts is a style that depicts the actuality of what the eyes can see. The term is used in different senses in art history; it may mean the same as illusionism, the representation of subjects with visual mimesis or verisimilitude, or may mean an emphasis on the actuality of...

) art often contains partial abstraction.

Both geometric abstraction and lyrical abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

 are often totally abstract. Among the very numerous art movements that embody partial abstraction would be for instance fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves , a short-lived and loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism...

 in which color is conspicuously and deliberately altered vis-a-vis reality, and cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

, which blatantly alters the forms of the real life entities depicted.

Abstraction in early art and many cultures



Much of the art of earlier cultures – signs and marks on pottery, textiles, and inscriptions and paintings on rock – were simple, geometric and linear forms which might have had a symbolic or decorative purpose. It is at this level of visual meaning that abstract art communicates. One can enjoy the beauty of Chinese calligraphy or Islamic calligraphy
Islamic calligraphy
Islamic calligraphy, colloquially known as Perso-Arabic calligraphy, is the artistic practice of handwriting, or calligraphy, and by extension, of bookmaking, in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage. This art form is based on the Arabic script, which for a long time was used by all...

 without being able to read it.

19th century



Three art movement
Art movement
An art movement is a tendency or style in art with a specific common philosophy or goal, followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time, or, at least, with the heyday of the movement defined within a number of years...

s which contributed to the development of abstract art were Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, Impressionism
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

 and Expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

. Artistic independence for artists was advanced during the 19th century. Patronage from the church diminished and private patronage from the public became more capable of providing a livelihood for artists.

Early intimations of a new art had been made by James McNeill Whistler
James McNeill Whistler
James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American-born, British-based artist. Averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, he was a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake". His famous signature for his paintings was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger...

 who, in his painting Nocturne in Black and Gold: The falling Rocket, (1872), placed greater emphasis on visual sensation than the depiction of objects. An objective interest in what is seen, can be discerned from the paintings of John Constable
John Constable
John Constable was an English Romantic painter. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home—now known as "Constable Country"—which he invested with an intensity of affection...

, J M W Turner, Camille Corot and from them to the Impressionists who continued the plein air painting of the Barbizon school
Barbizon school
The Barbizon school of painters were part of a movement towards realism in art, which arose in the context of the dominant Romantic Movement of the time. The Barbizon school was active roughly from 1830 through 1870...

. Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th...

 had begun as an Impressionist but his aim - to make a logical construction of reality based on a view from a single point, with modulated colour in flat areas - became the basis of a new visual art, later to be developed into Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

 by Georges Braque
Georges Braque
Georges Braque[p] was a major 20th century French painter and sculptor who, along with Pablo Picasso, developed the art style known as Cubism.-Early Life:...

 and Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

.

Expressionist
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 painters explored the bold use of paint surface, drawing distortions and exaggerations, and intense color. Expressionists produced emotionally charged paintings that were reactions to and perceptions of contemporary experience; and reactions to Impressionism
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

 and other more conservative directions of late 19th century painting. The Expressionists also drastically changed the emphasis on subject matter in favor of the portrayal of psychological states of being. Although artists like Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch was a Norwegian Symbolist painter, printmaker and an important forerunner of expressionist art. His best-known composition, The Scream, is part of a series The Frieze of Life, in which Munch explored the themes of love, fear, death, melancholia, and anxiety.- Childhood :Edvard Munch...

 and James Ensor
James Ensor
James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor was a Flemish-Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for almost his entire life...

 drew influences principally from the work of the Post-Impressionists they were instrumental to the advent of abstraction in the 20th century.
Additionally in the late 19th century in Eastern Europe mysticism
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 and early modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 religious philosophy as expressed by theosophist
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

 Mme. Blavatsky had a profound impact on pioneer geometric artists like Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics...

, and Hilma af Klint
Hilma af Klint
Hilma af Klint was a Swedish artist and mystic whose paintings were amongst the first abstract art. She belonged to a group called 'The Five' and the paintings or diagrams were a visual representation of complex philosophical ideas.- Early life :...

. The mystical teaching of Georges Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky also had an important influence on the early formations of the geometric abstract styles of Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian , was a Dutch painter.He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neo-Plasticism...

 and his colleagues in the early 20th century.

20th century



Post Impressionism as practiced by Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin
Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin was a leading French Post-Impressionist artist. He was an important figure in the Symbolist movement as a painter, sculptor, print-maker, ceramist, and writer...

, Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh , and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: , with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is...

 and Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th...

 had an enormous impact on 20th century art
20th century art
20th-century art and what it became known as — modern art — really began with modernism in the late 19th century. Nineteenth-century movements of Post Impressionism and Art Nouveau led to the first twentieth-century art movements of Fauvism in France and Die Brücke in Germany. Fauvism in Paris...

 and led to the advent of 20th century abstraction. The heritage of painters like Van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Seurat was essential for the development of modern art
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

. At the beginning of the 20th century Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter...

 and several other young artists including the pre-cubist Georges Braque
Georges Braque
Georges Braque[p] was a major 20th century French painter and sculptor who, along with Pablo Picasso, developed the art style known as Cubism.-Early Life:...

, André Derain
André Derain
André Derain was a French artist, painter, sculptor and co-founder of Fauvism with Henri Matisse.-Early years:...

, Raoul Dufy
Raoul Dufy
Raoul Dufy[p] was a French Fauvist painter. He developed a colorful, decorative style that became fashionable for designs of ceramics and textiles, as well as decorative schemes for public buildings. He is noted for scenes of open-air social events...

 and Maurice de Vlaminck
Maurice de Vlaminck
Maurice de Vlaminck was a French painter. Along with André Derain and Henri Matisse he is considered one of the principal figures in the Fauve movement, a group of modern artists who from 1904 to 1908 were united in their use of intense color.-Life:Maurice de Vlaminck was born in Paris to a family...

 revolutionized the Paris art world with "wild", multi-colored, expressive, landscapes and figure paintings that the critics called Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves , a short-lived and loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism...

. With his expressive use of color and his free and imaginative drawing Henri Matisse comes very close to pure abstraction in French Window at Collioure
Collioure
Collioure is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.It lies on the Mediterranean and was a part of the ancient Roussillon province....

, (1914), View of Notre-Dame
View of Notre-Dame
View of Notre-Dame is an oil painting by Henri Matisse from 1914. Along with works such as Woman on a High Stool, it belongs to the "experimental period" of Matisse's oeuvre. Pentimenti reveal that it was originally painted in a more detailed manner before it was radically simplified into a...

, (1914), and The Yellow Curtain
Le rideau jaune
Le rideau jaune is a painting by Henri Matisse painted in 1915. Its size is 57½ × 38⅛" .It is currently in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. It was donated to them as a gift of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Nelson Rockefeller Bequest, gift of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Weintraub,...

from 1915. The raw language of color as developed by the Fauves
Fauvism
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves , a short-lived and loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism...

 directly influenced another pioneer of abstraction Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics...

 (see illustration).

Although Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

 ultimately depends upon subject matter, it became, along with Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves , a short-lived and loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism...

, the art movement that directly opened the door to abstraction in the 20th century. Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

 made his first cubist
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

 paintings based on Cézanne's idea that all depiction of nature can be reduced to three solids: cube
Cube
In geometry, a cube is a three-dimensional solid object bounded by six square faces, facets or sides, with three meeting at each vertex. The cube can also be called a regular hexahedron and is one of the five Platonic solids. It is a special kind of square prism, of rectangular parallelepiped and...

, sphere
Sphere
A sphere is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space, such as the shape of a round ball. Like a circle in two dimensions, a perfect sphere is completely symmetrical around its center, with all points on the surface lying the same distance r from the center point...

 and cone
Cone (geometry)
A cone is an n-dimensional geometric shape that tapers smoothly from a base to a point called the apex or vertex. Formally, it is the solid figure formed by the locus of all straight line segments that join the apex to the base...

. With the painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
He followed his success by developing into his Rose period from 1904 to 1907, which introduced a strong element of sensuality and sexuality into his work...

 1907, Picasso dramatically created a new and radical picture depicting a raw and primitive brothel scene with five prostitutes, violently painted women, reminiscent of African tribal masks
African tribal masks
Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Subsaharan and West Africa. While the specific implications associated to ritual masks widely vary in different cultures, some traits are common to most African cultures: for example, masks...

 and his own new Cubist inventions. Analytic cubism was jointly developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque
Georges Braque
Georges Braque[p] was a major 20th century French painter and sculptor who, along with Pablo Picasso, developed the art style known as Cubism.-Early Life:...

, from about 1908 through 1912. Analytic cubism, the first clear manifestation of cubism, was followed by Synthetic cubism, practised by Braque, Picasso, Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger
Joseph Fernand Henri Léger was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. In his early works he created a personal form of Cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style...

, Juan Gris
Juan Gris
José Victoriano González-Pérez , better known as Juan Gris, was a Spanish painter and sculptor who lived and worked in France most of his life...

, Albert Gleizes
Albert Gleizes
Albert Gleizes , was a French painter. Born Albert Léon Gleizes and raised in Paris, he was the son of a fabric designer who ran a large industrial design workshop...

, Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp was a French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Considered by some to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Duchamp's output influenced the development of post-World War I Western art...

 and countless other artists into the 1920s. Synthetic cubism is characterized by the introduction of different textures, surfaces, collage
Collage
A collage is a work of formal art, primarily in the visual arts, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole....

 elements, papier collé
Papier collé
Papier collé is a painting technique and type of collage. With papier collé the artist pastes pieces of flat material into a painting in much in the same way as a collage, except the shape of the pasted pieces are objects themselves...

 and a large variety of merged subject matter. The collage artists like Kurt Schwitters
Kurt Schwitters
Kurt Hermann Eduard Karl Julius Schwitters was a German painter who was born in Hanover, Germany. Schwitters worked in several genres and media, including Dada, Constructivism, Surrealism, poetry, sound, painting, sculpture, graphic design, typography and what came to be known as...

 and Man Ray
Man Ray
Man Ray , born Emmanuel Radnitzky, was an American artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. Perhaps best described simply as a modernist, he was a significant contributor to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal...

 and others taking the clue
Clue
Clue may refer to:* Cluedo , a crime fiction board game** Clue , based on the board game** Clue , based on the board game** Clue , based on the board game...

 from Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

 were instrumental to the development of the movement called Dada
Dada
Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature—poetry, art manifestoes, art theory—theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a...

.

The Italian poet Marinetti published 'The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism
Futurism
Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century.Futurism or futurist may refer to:* Afrofuturism, an African-American and African diaspora subculture* Cubo-Futurism* Ego-Futurism...

'in 1909, which inspired artists such as Carlo Carra
Carlo Carrà
Carlo Carrà was an Italian painter, a leading figure of the Futurist movement that flourished in Italy during the beginning of the 20th century. In addition to his many paintings, he wrote a number of books concerning art. He taught for many years in the city of Milan.-Biography:Carrà was born in...

 in, Painting of Sounds, Noises and Smells and Umberto Boccioni
Umberto Boccioni
Umberto Boccioni was an Italian painter and sculptor. Like other Futurists, his work centered on the portrayal of movement , speed, and technology. He was born in Reggio Calabria, Italy.-Biography:...

 Train in Motion, 1911, to a further stage of abstraction and profoundly influenced art movements throughout Europe.

In 1913 the poet Guillaume Appollinaire named the work of Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Orphism
Orphism (art)
Orphism or Orphic Cubism , the term coined by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, was a little known art movement during the time of Cubism that focused on pure abstraction and bright colors influenced by Fauvism and the dye chemist Eugène Chevreul...

. He defined it as, the art of painting new structures out of elements that have not been borrowed from the visual sphere, but had been created entirely by the artist...it is a pure art.

Since the turn of the century cultural connections between artists of the major European and American cities had become extremely active as they strove to create an art form equal to the high aspirations of modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

. Ideas were able to cross-fertilize by means of artists books, exhibitions and manifestos
Art manifesto
The art manifesto has been a recurrent feature associated with the avant-garde in Modernism. Art manifestos are mostly extreme in their rhetoric and intended for shock value to achieve a revolutionary effect. They often address wider issues, such as the political system...

 so that many sources were open to experimentation and discussion, and formed a basis for a diversity of modes of abstraction. The following extract from,'The World Backwards', gives some impression of the inter-connectedness of culture at the time:

' David Burliuk
David Burliuk
David Davidovich Burliuk was a Russian avant-garde artist of Ukrainian origin , book illustrator, publicist, and author associated with Russian Futurism...

's knowledge of modern art movements must have been extremely up-to-date, for the second Knave of Diamonds exhibition
Russian avant-garde
The Russian avant-garde is an umbrella term used to define the large, influential wave of modern art that flourished in Russia approximately 1890 to 1930 - although some place its beginning as early as 1850 and its end as late as 1960...

, held in January 1912 (in Moscow) included not only paintings sent from Munich, but some members of the German Die Brücke
Die Brücke
Die Brücke was a group of German expressionist artists formed in Dresden in 1905, after which the Brücke Museum in Berlin was named. Founding members were Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Later members were Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Otto Mueller...

 group, while from Paris came work by Robert Delaunay
Robert Delaunay
Robert Delaunay was a French artist who, with his wife Sonia Delaunay and others, cofounded the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes. His later works were more abstract, reminiscent of Paul Klee...

, Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter...

 and Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger
Joseph Fernand Henri Léger was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. In his early works he created a personal form of Cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style...

, as well as Picasso. During the Spring David Burliuk gave two lectures on cubism and planned a polemical publication, which the Knave of Diamonds was to finance. He went abroad in May and came back determined to rival the almanac Der Blaue Reiter
Der Blaue Reiter
Der Blaue Reiter was a group of artists from the Neue Künstlervereinigung München in Munich, Germany. The group was founded by a number of Russian emigrants, including Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, and native German artists, such as Franz Marc, August Macke and...

which had emerged from the printers while he was in Germany'.


By 1911 many experimental works in the search for this 'pure art' had been created. František Kupka
František Kupka
František Kupka was a Czech painter and graphic artist. He was a pioneer and co-founder of the early phases of the abstract art movement and Orphic cubism...

 had painted the Orphist work, 'Discs of Newton'. The Rayist
Rayonism
Rayonism is a style of abstract art that developed in Russia in 1911.Mikhail Larionov and Natalia Goncharova developed rayonism after hearing a series of lectures about Futurism by Marinetti in Moscow. The Futurists took speed, technology and modernity as their inspiration, depicting the dynamic...

 (Luchizm) drawings of Natalia Goncharova
Natalia Goncharova
Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova was a Russian avant-garde artist , painter, costume designer, writer, illustrator, and set designer. Her great-aunt was Natalia Pushkina, wife of the poet Alexander Pushkin.-Life and work:...

 and Mikhail Larionov
Mikhail Larionov
Mikhail Fyodorovich Larionov was an avant-garde Russian painter.-Life and work:...

, used lines like rays of light to make a construction. Kasimir Malevich completed his first entirely abstract work, the Suprematist, 'Black Square', in 1915. Another of the Suprematist group' Liubov Popova, created the Architectonic Constructions and Spatial Force Constructions between 1916 and 1921. Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian , was a Dutch painter.He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neo-Plasticism...

 was evolving his abstract language, of horizontal and vertical lines with rectangles of colour, between 1915 and 1919, Neo-Plasticism was the aesthetic which Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg and other in the group De Stijl
De Stijl
De Stijl , propagating the group's theories. Next to van Doesburg, the group's principal members were the painters Piet Mondrian , Vilmos Huszár , and Bart van der Leck , and the architects Gerrit Rietveld , Robert van 't Hoff , and J.J.P. Oud...

 intended to reshape the environment of the future.

Music



Visual art, as it becomes more abstract becomes more like music: an art form which uses the abstract elements of sound and divisions of time. Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics...

, himself a musician, was inspired by the possibility of marks and associative color resounding in the soul. The idea had been put forward by Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire was a French poet who produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the nineteenth century...

, that all our senses respond to various stimuli but the senses are connected at a deeper aesthetic level.

Closely related to this, is the idea that art has The spiritual dimension and can transcend 'every-day' experience, reaching a spiritual plane. The Theosophical Society
Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society is an organization formed in 1875 to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments has several successors...

 popularised the ancient wisdom of the sacred books of India and China in the early years of the century. It was in this context that Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian , was a Dutch painter.He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neo-Plasticism...

, Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics...

, Hilma af Klint
Hilma af Klint
Hilma af Klint was a Swedish artist and mystic whose paintings were amongst the first abstract art. She belonged to a group called 'The Five' and the paintings or diagrams were a visual representation of complex philosophical ideas.- Early life :...

 and other artists working towards an 'objectless state' became interested in the occult as a way of creating an 'inner' object.
The universal and timeless shapes found in geometry
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

: the circle, square and triangle become the spacial elements in abstract art; they are, like color, fundamental systems underlying visible reality.

Russian avant-garde



Many of the abstract artists in Russia became Constructivists
Constructivism (art)
Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia beginning in 1919, which was a rejection of the idea of autonomous art. The movement was in favour of art as a practice for social purposes. Constructivism had a great effect on modern art movements of the 20th...

 believing that art was no longer something remote, but life itself. The artist must become a technician, learning to use the tools and materials of modern production. Art into life! was Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Yevgrafovich Tatlin was a Russian and Soviet painter and architect. With Kazimir Malevich he was one of the two most important figures in the Russian avant-garde art movement of the 1920s, and he later became the most important artist in the Constructivist movement...

's slogan, and that of all the future Constructivists. Varvara Stepanova
Varvara Stepanova
Varvara Fyodorovna Stepanova , was a Russian artist associated with the 'Constructivist' movement.She came from peasant origins but was fortunate enough to get an education at Kazan School of Art, Odessa. There she met her lifelong friend and collaborator Alexander Rodchenko...

 and Alexandre Exter and others abandoned easel painting and diverted their energies to theatre design and graphic works.
On the other side stood Kazimir Malevich
Kazimir Malevich
Kazimir Severinovich Malevich was a Russian painter and art theoretician, born of ethnic Polish parents. He was a pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the Avant-garde Suprematist movement.-Early life:...

, Anton Pevsner and Naum Gabo
Naum Gabo
Naum Gabo KBE, born Naum Neemia Pevsner was a prominent Russian sculptor in the Constructivism movement and a pioneer of Kinetic Art.-Early life:...

. They argued that art was essentially a spiritual activity; to create the individual's place in the world, not to organise life in a practical, materialistic sense. Many of those who were hostile to the materialist production idea of art left Russia. Anton Pevsner went to France, Gabo went first to Berlin, then to England and finally to America. Kandinsky studied in Moscow then left for the Bauhaus
Bauhaus
', commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term stood for "School of Building".The Bauhaus school was founded by...

. By the mid-1920s the revolutionary period (1917 to 1921) when artists had been free to experiment was over; and by the 1930s only social realist art
Social realism
Social Realism, also known as Socio-Realism, is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts social and racial injustice, economic hardship, through unvarnished pictures of life's struggles; often depicting working class activities as heroic...

 was allowed.

The Bauhaus


The Bauhaus at Weimar, Germany was founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius
Walter Gropius
Walter Adolph Georg Gropius was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School who, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture....

. The philosophy underlying the teaching program was unity of all the visual and plastic arts from architecture and painting to weaving and stained glass. This philosophy had grown from the ideas of the Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts was an international design philosophy that originated in England and flourished between 1860 and 1910 , continuing its influence until the 1930s...

 in England and the Deutscher Werkbund
Deutscher Werkbund
The Deutscher Werkbund was a German association of artists, architects, designers, and industrialists. The Werkbund was to become an important event in the development of modern architecture and industrial design, particularly in the later creation of the Bauhaus school of design...

. Among the teachers were Paul Klee
Paul Klee
Paul Klee was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered both a German and a Swiss painter. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was, as well, a student of orientalism...

, Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics...

, Johannes Itten
Johannes Itten
Johannes Itten was a Swiss expressionist painter, designer, teacher, writer and theorist associated with the Bauhaus school...

, Josef Albers
Josef Albers
Josef Albers was a German-born American artist and educator whose work, both in Europe and in the United States, formed the basis of some of the most influential and far-reaching art education programs of the 20th century....

, Anni Albers
Anni Albers
Annelise Albers was a German-American textile artist and printmaker. She is perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century.-Life:...

, Theo van Doesburg
Theo van Doesburg
Theo van Doesburg was a Dutch artist, practicing in painting, writing, poetry and architecture. He is best known as the founder and leader of De Stijl.-Biography:-Early life:...

 and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy
László Moholy-Nagy
László Moholy-Nagy was a Hungarian painter and photographer as well as professor in the Bauhaus school. He was highly influenced by constructivism and a strong advocate of the integration of technology and industry into the arts.-Early life:...

. In 1925 the school was moved to Dessau and, as the Nazi party gained control in 1932, The Bauhaus was closed. In 1937 an exhibition of degenerate art
Degenerate art
Degenerate art is the English translation of the German entartete Kunst, a term adopted by the Nazi regime in Germany to describe virtually all modern art. Such art was banned on the grounds that it was un-German or Jewish Bolshevist in nature, and those identified as degenerate artists were...

, 'Entartete Kunst' contained all types of avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 art disapproved of by the Nazi party. Then the exodus began: not just from the Bauhaus but from Europe in general; to Paris, London and America. Paul Klee went to Switzerland but many of the artists at the Bauhaus went to America.

Abstraction in Paris and London



During the 1930s Paris became the host to artists from Russia, Germany, Holland and other European countries affected by the rise of totalitarianism
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

. Sophie Tauber and Jean Arp
Jean Arp
Jean Arp / Hans Arp was a German-French, or Alsatian, sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper....

 collaborated on paintings and sculpture using organic/geometric forms. The Polish Katarzyna Kobro
Katarzyna Kobro
Katarzyna Kobro was a Polish sculptor of Latvian origin. She studied at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Drawing, the second Free Workshops , Moscow, 1917-20. In 1920 she moved to Smolensk, and in 1921 she married WLADYSLAW STRZEMINSKI. In 1920-22 she was associated with the Vitebsk-based...

 applied mathematically based ideas to sculpture. The many types of abstraction now in close proximity led to attempts by artists to analyse the various conceptual and aesthetic groupings. An exhibition by forty-six members of the Cercle et Carré group organised by Michel Seuphor  contained work by the Neo-Plasticists as well as abstractionists as varied as Kandinsky, Anton Pevsner and Kurt Schwitters
Kurt Schwitters
Kurt Hermann Eduard Karl Julius Schwitters was a German painter who was born in Hanover, Germany. Schwitters worked in several genres and media, including Dada, Constructivism, Surrealism, poetry, sound, painting, sculpture, graphic design, typography and what came to be known as...

. Criticised by Theo van Doesburg
Theo van Doesburg
Theo van Doesburg was a Dutch artist, practicing in painting, writing, poetry and architecture. He is best known as the founder and leader of De Stijl.-Biography:-Early life:...

 to be too indefinite a collection he publish the journal Art Concret setting out a manifesto defining an abstract art in which the line, color and surface only, are the concrete reality. Abstraction-Création founded in 1931 as a more open group, provided a point of reference for abstract artists, as the political situation worsened in 1935, and artists again regrouped, many in London. The first exhibition of British abstract art was held in England in 1935. The following year the more international Abstract and Concrete exhibition was organised by Nicolete Gray
Nicolete Gray
Nicolete Gray was an English art scholar, and exponent and scholar of calligraphy. She was the youngest daughter of the poet, dramatist and art scholar Laurence Binyon and his wife, writer, editor and translator Cicely Margaret Pryor Powell...

 including work by Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian , was a Dutch painter.He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neo-Plasticism...

, Joan Miró
Joan Miró
Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona.Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride...

, Barbara Hepworth
Barbara Hepworth
Dame Barbara Hepworth DBE was an English sculptor. Her work exemplifies Modernism, and with such contemporaries as Ivon Hitchens, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo she helped to develop modern art in Britain.-Life and work:Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth was born on 10 January 1903 in Wakefield,...

 and Ben Nicholson
Ben Nicholson
Benjamin Lauder "Ben" Nicholson, OM was a British painter of abstract compositions , landscape and still-life.-Background and Training:...

. Hepworth, Nicholson and Gabo moved to the St. Ives group in Cornwall to continue their 'constructivist' work.

America: mid-century



During the Nazi rise to power in the 1930s many artists fled Europe to the United States. By the early 1940s the main movements in modern art, expressionism, cubism, abstraction, surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

, and dada
Dada
Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature—poetry, art manifestoes, art theory—theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a...

 were represented in New York: Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp was a French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Considered by some to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Duchamp's output influenced the development of post-World War I Western art...

, Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger
Joseph Fernand Henri Léger was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. In his early works he created a personal form of Cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style...

, Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian , was a Dutch painter.He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neo-Plasticism...

, Jacques Lipchitz
Jacques Lipchitz
Jacques Lipchitz was a Cubist sculptor.Jacques Lipchitz was born Chaim Jacob Lipchitz, son of a building contractor in Druskininkai, Lithuania, then within the Russian Empire...

, Max Ernst
Max Ernst
Max Ernst was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was one of the primary pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism.-Early life:...

, André Breton
André Breton
André Breton was a French writer and poet. He is known best as the founder of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism"....

, were just a few of the exiled Europeans who arrived in New York. The rich cultural influences brought by the European artists were distilled and built upon by local New York painters. The climate of freedom in New York allowed all of these influences to flourish. The art galleries that primarily had focused on European art began to notice the local art community and the work of younger American artists who had begun to mature. Certain of these artists became distinctly abstract in their mature work.
Some artists of the period defied categorization, such as Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia Totto O'Keeffe was an American artist.Born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, O'Keeffe first came to the attention of the New York art community in 1916, several decades before women had gained access to art training in America’s colleges and universities, and before any of its women artists...

 who, while a modernist abstractionist, was a pure maverick in that she painted highly abstract forms while not joining any specific group of the period.
Eventually American artists who were working in a great diversity of styles began to coalesce into cohesive stylistic groups. The best known group of American artists became known as the Abstract expressionists and the New York School
New York School
The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s, 1960s in New York City...

. In New York City there was an atmosphere which encouraged discussion and there was new opportunity for learning and growing. Artists and teachers John D. Graham
John D. Graham
John D. Graham was a Ukrainian-born American Modernist / figurative painter.He was born Ivan Gratianovitch Dombrowsky in Kiev, Ukraine...

 and Hans Hofmann
Hans Hofmann
Hans Hofmann was a German-born American abstract expressionist painter.-Biography:Hofmann was born in Weißenburg, Bavaria on March 21, 1880, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann. When he was six he moved with his family to Munich...

 became important bridge figures between the newly arrived European Modernists and the younger American artists coming of age. Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, born Marcus Rothkowitz , was a Russian-born American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted classification as an "abstract painter".- Childhood :Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Vitebsk Province, Russian...

, born in Russia, began with strongly surrealist imagery which later dissolved into his powerful color compositions of the early 1950s. The expressionistic gesture
Action painting
Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

 and the act of painting itself, became of primary importance to Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Paul Jackson Pollock , known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and...

 and Franz Kline
Franz Kline
Franz Jozef Kline was an American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement centered around New York in the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and attended Girard College, an academy in Philadelphia for fatherless boys...

. While during the 1940s Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky was an Armenian-born American painter who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism. As such, his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian genocide.-Early life:...

's and Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

's figurative work evolved into abstraction by the end of the decade. New York City became the center, and artists worldwide gravitated towards it; from other places in America as well.

Abstraction in the 21st century



A commonly held idea is that pluralism
Cultural pluralism
Cultural pluralism is a term used when smaller groups within a larger society maintain their unique cultural identities, and their values and practices are accepted by the wider culture. Cultural pluralism is often confused with Multiculturalism...

 characterizes art at the beginning of the 21st century. There is no consensus, nor need there be, as to a representative style of the age. There is an anything goes attitude that prevails; an "everything going on", and consequently "nothing going on" syndrome; this creates an aesthetic traffic jam with no firm and clear direction and with every lane on the artistic superhighway filled to capacity. Consequently magnificent and important works of art continue to be made albeit in a wide variety of styles and aesthetic temperaments, the marketplace being left to judge merit.

Digital art
Digital art
Digital art is a general term for a range of artistic works and practices that use digital technology as an essential part of the creative and/or presentation process...

, computer art
Computer art
Computer art is any art in which computers play a role in production or display of the artwork. Such art can be an image, sound, animation, video, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, videogame, web site, algorithm, performance or gallery installation...

, internet art
Internet art
Internet art is a form of digital artwork distributed via the Internet. This form of art has circumvented the traditional dominance of the gallery and museum system, delivering aesthetic experiences via the Internet. In many cases, the viewer is drawn into some kind of interaction with the work...

, hard-edge painting
Hard-edge painting
Hard-edge painting is painting in which abrupt transitions are found between color areas. Color areas are often of one unvarying color. The Hard-edge painting style is related to Geometric abstraction, Op Art, Post-painterly Abstraction, and Color Field painting.-History of the term:The term was...

, geometric abstraction, appropriation
Appropriation (art)
Appropriation is a fundamental aspect in the history of the arts . Appropriation can be understood as "the use of borrowed elements in the creation of a new work."...

, hyperrealism, photorealism
Photorealism
Photorealism is the genre of painting based on using the camera and photographs to gather information and then from this information creating a painting that appears photographic...

, expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

, minimalism
Minimalism
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts...

, lyrical abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

, pop art, op art, abstract expressionism, color field painting, monochrome painting
Monochrome painting
Monochromatic painting has been an important component of avant-garde visual art throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. Painters have created the exploration of one color, the examination of values changing across a surface, the expressivity of texture and nuance, expressing a wide...

, neo-expressionism
Neo-expressionism
Neo-expressionism is a style of modern painting and sculpture that emerged in the late 1970s and dominated the art market until the mid-1980s...

, collage
Collage
A collage is a work of formal art, primarily in the visual arts, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole....

, decollage
Décollage
Décollage, in art, is the opposite of collage; instead of an image being built up of all or parts of existing images, it is created by cutting, tearing away or otherwise removing, pieces of an original image. Examples include inimage or etrécissements and excavations...

, intermedia
Intermedia
Intermedia was a concept employed in the mid-sixties by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins to describe the ineffable, often confusing, inter-disciplinary activities that occur between genres that became prevalent in the 1960s. Thus, the areas such as those between drawing and poetry, or between painting...

, assemblage
Assemblage (art)
Assemblage is an artistic process. In the visual arts, it consists of making three-dimensional or two-dimensional artistic compositions by putting together found objects...

, digital painting
Digital painting
Digital painting is an emerging art form in which traditional painting techniques such as watercolor, oils, impasto, etc. are applied using digital tools by means of a computer, a digitizing tablet and stylus, and software. Traditional painting is painting with a physical medium as opposed to a...

, postmodern art, neo-Dada painting, shaped canvas
Shaped canvas
Shaped canvases are paintings that depart from the normal flat, rectangular configuration. Canvases may be shaped by altering their outline, while retaining their flatness. An ancient, traditional example is the tondo, a painting on a round canvas: Raphael, as well as some other Renaissance...

 painting, environmental mural painting, graffiti
Graffiti
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

, figure painting
Figure painting
Figure painting is a form of the visual arts in which the artist uses a live model as the subject of a two-dimensional piece of artwork using paint as the medium. The live model can be either nude or partly or fully clothed and the painting is a representation of the full body of the model...

, landscape painting, portrait painting
Portrait painting
Portrait painting is a genre in painting, where the intent is to depict the visual appearance of the subject. Beside human beings, animals, pets and even inanimate objects can be chosen as the subject for a portrait...

, are a few continuing and current directions at the beginning of the 21st century.

Into the 21st century abstraction remains very much in view, its main themes: the transcendental, the contemplative and the timeless are exempified by Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

, John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin (artist)
John Dwyer McLaughlin was an American abstract painter. Based primarily in California, he was a pioneer in minimalist and hard-edge painting.-Life:...

, and Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
Agnes Bernice Martin was an American abstract painter, often referred to as a minimalist; Martin considered herself an abstract expressionist.She won a National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1998....

 as well as younger living artists. Art as Object as seen in the Minimalist sculpture of Donald Judd
Donald Judd
Donald Clarence Judd was an American artist associated with minimalism . In his work, Judd sought autonomy and clarity for the constructed object and the space created by it, ultimately achieving a rigorously democratic presentation without compositional hierarchy...

 and the paintings of Frank Stella
Frank Stella
Frank Stella is an American painter and printmaker, significant within the art movements of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction.-Biography:...

 are still seen today in newer permutations. The poetic, Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

 and the sensuous use of color seen in the work of painters as diverse as Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell
Robert Motherwell American painter, printmaker and editor. He was one of the youngest of the New York School , which also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston....

, Patrick Heron
Patrick Heron
Patrick Heron , was an English painter, writer and designer, based in St. Ives, Cornwall.- Early life :...

, Kenneth Noland
Kenneth Noland
Kenneth Noland was an American abstract painter. He was one of the best-known American Color field painters, although in the 1950s he was thought of as an abstract expressionist and in the early 1960s he was thought of as a minimalist painter. Noland helped establish the Washington Color School...

, Sam Francis
Sam Francis
Samuel Lewis Francis was an American painter and printmaker.-Early life:...

, Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly
Edwin Parker "Cy" Twombly, Jr. was an American artist well known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors...

, Richard Diebenkorn
Richard Diebenkorn
Richard Diebenkorn was a well-known 20th century American painter. His early work is associated with Abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His later work were instrumental to his achievement of worldwide acclaim.-Biography:Richard Clifford Diebenkorn Jr...

, Helen Frankenthaler
Helen Frankenthaler
Helen Frankenthaler is an American abstract expressionist painter. She is a major contributor to the history of postwar American painting. Having exhibited her work in six decades she has spanned several generations of abstract painters while continuing to produce vital and ever-changing new work...

, Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell was a "second generation" abstract expressionist painter. She was an essential member of the American Abstract expressionist movement, even though much of her career took place in France. Along with Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, and Helen Frankenthaler she was one of her era's few...

, among others.

There was a resurgence after the war and into the 1950s of the figurative, as neo-Dada
Neo-Dada
Neo-Dada is a label applied primarily to audio and visual art that has similarities in method or intent to earlier Dada artwork. It is the foundation of Fluxus, Pop Art and Nouveau réalisme. Neo-Dada is exemplified by its use of modern materials, popular imagery, and absurdist contrast...

, fluxus
Fluxus
Fluxus—a name taken from a Latin word meaning "to flow"—is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. They have been active in Neo-Dada noise music and visual art as well as literature, urban planning,...

, happening
Happening
A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered art, usually as performance art. Happenings take place anywhere , are often multi-disciplinary, with a nonlinear narrative and the active participation of the audience...

, conceptual art
Conceptual art
Conceptual art is art in which the concept or idea involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. Many of the works, sometimes called installations, of the artist Sol LeWitt may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions...

, neo-expressionism
Neo-expressionism
Neo-expressionism is a style of modern painting and sculpture that emerged in the late 1970s and dominated the art market until the mid-1980s...

, installation art
Installation art
Installation art describes an artistic genre of three-dimensional works that are often site-specific and designed to transform the perception of a space. Generally, the term is applied to interior spaces, whereas exterior interventions are often called Land art; however, the boundaries between...

, performance art
Performance art
In art, performance art is a performance presented to an audience, traditionally interdisciplinary. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated; spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. The performance can be live or...

, video art
Video art
Video art is a type of art which relies on moving pictures and comprises video and/or audio data. . Video art came into existence during the 1960s and 1970s, is still widely practiced and has given rise to the widespread use of video installations...

 and pop art
Pop art
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art...

 have come to signify the age of consumerism. The distinction between abstract and figurative art has, over the last twenty years, become less defined leaving a wider range of ideas for all artists.

See also

  • Abstract expressionism
    Abstract expressionism
    Abstract expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris...

  • Action painting
    Action painting
    Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

  • Art history
    Art history
    Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

  • Art periods
    Art periods
    Art period n. A phase in the development of the work of an artist, groups of artists or art movement.-Renaissance:Renaissance c. 1300 - c. 1602...

  • American Abstract Artists
    American Abstract Artists
    American Abstract Artists was formed in 1936 in New York City, to promote and foster public understanding of abstract art. American Abstract Artists exhibitions, publications, and lectures helped to establish the organization as a major forum for the exchange and discussion of ideas, and for...

  • De Stijl
    De Stijl
    De Stijl , propagating the group's theories. Next to van Doesburg, the group's principal members were the painters Piet Mondrian , Vilmos Huszár , and Bart van der Leck , and the architects Gerrit Rietveld , Robert van 't Hoff , and J.J.P. Oud...

  • Geometric abstraction
  • Hard-edge
  • History of painting
    History of painting
    The history of painting reaches back in time to artifacts from pre-historic humans, and spans all cultures. It represents a continuous, though periodically disrupted tradition from Antiquity. Across cultures, and spanning continents and millennia, the history of painting is an ongoing river of...

  • Lyrical abstraction
    Lyrical Abstraction
    Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

  • Western painting
    Western painting
    The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity. Until the mid-19th century it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor.Developments...

  • Piet (programming language)
    Piet (programming language)
    Piet is an esoteric programming language designed by David Morgan-Mar, whose programs are bitmaps that look like abstract art. The compilation is guided by a "pointer" that moves around the image, from one continuous coloured region to the next...

    , an esoteric programming language whose programs are bitmaps that look like abstract art, named after the Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian
  • Abstraction in art
  • Spatialism
    Spatialism
    Spatialism is an art movement founded by Italian artist Lucio Fontana in Milan in 1947 in which he grandiosely intended to synthesize colour, sound, space, movement, and time into a new type of art. The main ideas of the movement were anticipated in his Manifesto blanco published in Buenos Aires...

  • Concrete art
    Concrete art
    Concrete art and design or concretism is an abstractionist movement that evolved in the 1930s out of the work of De Stijl, the futurists and Kandinsky around the Swiss painter Max Bill. The term "concrete art" was first introduced by Theo van Doesburg in his "Manifesto of Concrete Art"...

  • Representation (arts)
    Representation (arts)
    Representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements...


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