Abstract art is one of the art movements that can easily polarize public opinion. When some first see an abstract artwork, they might say that their child could easily have painted that. This may be true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is abstract art. We will assume you’ve clicked onto this article because you’re curious about why so many people admire it or hate it.

What is Abstract Art?

Abstract art emerged in the early twentieth century, arguably in the United States of America. Abstract art is more than random lines, colours, and textures splattered onto a canvas. Some of the biggest names in art history didn’t abandon figurative work because they got tired of them. Instead, they were immensely talented, having dabbled in other art movements before finding their voice in Abstract art. Jackson Pollock, Wassily Kandinsky, and Kazimir Malevich could superbly and accurately illustrate men, women, and animals before they tried their hand at Abstract art.

Defining Abstract Art

The definition of Abstract art is an art form that makes no attempt to represent an object or figure from reality and instead depicts visual reality with the use of shapes, colours, forms, and marks. Abstract art is also known as nonrepresentational art.

Timeline of Abstract Art


Art is a reaction to the world around it, as is Abstract art. Abstract art can be linked back to movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, like Post-Impressionism and Cubism. The invention of photography in the mid-nineteenth century opened up doors for the likes of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque to break down reality with their fragmented representations and develop Cubism.

Key Players

Some of the key figures in Abstract art are Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and more daring artists. However, the early signs of Abstract art began with Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, among a handful of others.

The Movement

Abstract art emerged in the twentieth century and is considered a Modern art movement. It was a radical art form and revolutionised the art world.

The Present

Abstract art is one of the more popular art forms in the world. It’s easily recognisable even though the subject may not be. Abstract art has expanded from flat canvas and now covers sculpture, video art, and installations.

Importance of Abstract Art

Abstract art remains an important movement as it enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible world and continues to inspire curiosity in people. It offers both artist and spectator the freedom of imagination as the artist remains free to abstract what they want from reality and depict it as their intuition deems so, while the spectator is not bound to understanding the work through any represented figures.

Quick Points

One – Creating Abstract art doesn’t require a licence (art degree) from anyone in the art world or otherwise. Art is all about imagination and expression, so grab your favourite colours and paintbrush, and get to work!

Two – Engage with the medium, whether that’s illustration, sculpture, or painting. It’s your artwork and you should permit yourself to strip back the paint, mark the canvas with the other end of the brush, scratch at it, flick it.

Three – Taking lessons from the best before you won’t hurt your artmaking. Although this isn’t a hard and fast rule, you should examine the artists you admire and see what you can learn from them.

Four – Show your work off to your friends and family. After yourself, they’re the first ones who’ll experience your artistic expression, and most likely the safest group to share your work with.

What Abstract Art Means to the Artists

Wassily Kandinsky: “Form itself, even if completely abstract ... has its own inner sound.”

Jackson Pollock: “It doesn't make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.”

Arshile Gorky: “Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically with his eyes....Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.”