Abstract art is often called non-objective art. Works of art such as statues or paintings show something that is immediately recognizable: an object such as a house or a table, an animal or a human being, or a landscape. Abstract art doesn’t show such things.
Abstract art is about forms and colors. If you look at such a work of art, you can feel something or think about something: a certain color like red reminds you of something powerful or dangerous. What exactly is powerful or dangerous for him, he can imagine himself.
The word abstract means “to move away” or “to release”. Abstract art is thus “detached from the representational”. The artist wants to show something without having to paint concrete things, people, animals and so on.
What is “normal” art?
A drawn wren. The picture comes from a work for ornithologists from 1859. More than 150 years ago you could hardly photograph birds because the cameras and films were not so good yet.
With pictures or statues, one often wants to show exactly what something looks like. Scientists, for example, want to know what a certain species of bird looks like. Today you take a photo, in the past you drew birds. Such drawings weren’t necessarily art: they just showed what a bird looks like.
Art goes a step further. It not only shows what is visible, but also wants to trigger and effect something in the viewer. Art should also trigger feelings or moods. A beautiful landscape causes a different reaction in the viewer than a wild bullfight.
How did Abstract Art come about?
“The Night Café in Arles” is a painting from 1888, painted by Vincent van Gogh. The painting is not yet really abstract. But obviously van Gogh is interested above all in forms and colors. It is bright in the room, the strong colours “bite” each other. For van Gogh, these are people’s ugly passions.
Perhaps abstract art has always existed. Even in the Stone Age or antiquity, there were paintings with ornaments, lines and other forms that didn’t immediately mean something. Normally, however, this is only an ornament: there is no feeling or thought behind it.
Photography was invented in the 1850s. Anyone who wanted to depict something precisely no longer needed a drawing. Some artists thought, “How can I do something special with art, something you can’t do with a photograph?
For these artists, it was no longer so important to paint an “object” correctly. More important were forms and colors that emphasize something. You can also express feelings with them and encourage the viewer to feel something himself. Abstract art therefore goes one step further than “normal” art.
Some works of art are special because of the way they work with colours. A color may appear again and again in different places, and it stands for a thought or a feeling. The whole picture is held together by the color. Or a form connects something in the picture, like a circle or a line.
Many people therefore do not find abstract art interesting. They can only imagine little about it. They would rather be able to recognize something from reality. Some people even think that this is not art at all. They also don’t see any special skill in it.
Who were the first artists with Abstract Art?
Piet Mondriaan from the Netherlands painted the picture you see in the middle. The French fashion designer Yves St. Laurent got the idea for some clothes from it.
Step by step the artists moved away from the representational. That’s why it’s hard to say which work of art was the first abstract. By the way, many artists started with “normal” art and then created more and more abstract works.
For some scientists Hilma af Klint from Sweden was the first painter of abstract art. Much more famous is Wassily Kandinsky from Russia. His paintings were initially expressionist. That’s why he learned to work with strong colors. Pablo Picasso is considered a well-known abstract painter, but his paintings are often still quite figurative.
In painting, Abstract Art began around 1910, and for sculptors it lasted about ten or twenty years longer. Henry Moore, for example, is well known. With him, you often recognize that he actually shows a person, but sometimes not.