The Unexplained Allure of Abstract Art

Abstract art

The simple arrangement of swirling shapes, the soft intersection of muted shades and the mish-mash energy of vibrant colours all have an aesthetic language that makes you pause. That is the unexplained impact and allure of abstract art. It may not make sense, but it talks to you and stirs you at an emotional level. The colours grab you as you enter a room and your whispered response is, “I love it!’” 

How can something that represents nothing in particular, be so eye-catching? Perhaps Pablo Picasso’s insight will shed some light on that: “There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterwards, you can remove all traces of reality.“ 

Although not loved by everyone, there is no denying that abstract art evokes a response from any viewer. And that, at a basic level, is the whole point. 

Defining abstract art

By nature, abstract art tends to be elusive, so a coherent definition is tricky. “But, we could say that abstract artists use a visual language of shape, form, colour, and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.” –Widewalls online magazine

Abstract art

Influenced by the modernist movement, the bold advantage of non-representational art is the absence of colour rules and therefore makes a huge statement; turning heads in any interior. Reality is subjective and you, the viewer, get to define the story within the painting. 

Abstract art subtly and organically plays into the psychology of colour and shape – no wonder it gets an emotional response.  

Pioneers of abstract art

According to the timeline, the 1910s are generally agreed to be the birth of abstract art starting with ​​Wassily Kandinsky’s painting Picture of the Circle (1911), Robert Delauney’s Le premier Disque (1912-1913) and Henri Matisse’s The Yellow Curtain (1914-1915). But the origins can be traced back to Claude Monet and James McNeill Whistler. 

Characteristics of abstract art

“My 6-year old could paint that.” Actually, they couldn’t, unless they were an art savant. Be it geometric, lyrical, curvilinear or figurative, abstract artists have excellent drawing skills, a finely honed sense of composition, a deep understanding of the theory of colour and an appreciation of the workings of line texture, pattern and process that a 6-year old simply does not have. 

  • Abstract art is less restrictive than other styles of painting. 
  • There is no obvious subject.
  • Using lines, shape and colour, artists experiment with dark shading, light, negative spaces and visual sensation to express and evoke emotion. 

Techniques to use for abstract art

As a beginner wanting to explore the world of non-representational art, besides a list of art supplies, you need to have an understanding of composition, colour and texture and how to successfully translate that onto a canvas. 

Abstract Art

  • Composition is all about the size and where you place your objects, shapes or focal point on the canvas. 
  • Colour is not just about throwing any random colours together, it is about thinking through an intentional palette. It is all about mixing colours and understanding the relationship between them. 
  • Texture is varying the thickness of your paints and using different mediums to experiment with a variety of techniques and results. 

Analysing abstract art

3 basic steps will help you appreciate an abstract art piece:

  • What do you see? Describe the obvious and then dig a little deeper by identifying the elements and principles of design you see. Are the colours warm or cool? Does the artwork have visual balance? What kinds of lines are used? 
  • What do you think? This is about interpretation and what you think the artwork is trying to say. How does it make you feel? Is there rhythm and movement? Does it convey energy or stillness? How does the title of the painting relate to what you see? 
  • So what? Evaluate the overall visual story. Does it work for you? Are you moved by it? Does it speak to you?  (If not, that is OK!).

Analysing Abstract art

The advantages of abstract art

When it comes to the world of design and interiors and choosing art for your walls,  abstract art becomes a wonderful decor muse.

It can be the starting point inspiration for an entire space or it can bring a space together and be the finishing touch. Either way, the language of colour in non-representational paintings – the moody muted hues, dreamy pastel shades or vibrant bold colours – will anchor and complement any style and be a talking point, because abstract art always makes you feel something. 

So, if you are looking to add visual attitude to a room, then abstract art is a go-to option and a one-of-a-kind investment piece. Just find the piece that talks to you. 

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