What is Abstract Art?
The Tate glossary of art terms defines abstract art as that which “does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect”1. So, what abstract art means is: art which ‘abstracts’ or separates the subject matter from its realistic expression.
Contemporary abstract art is a genre with many branches, rooted in the Modernist movement of the twentieth century. In reaction to the conservative values of realism, modernists created fine art, music, prose and poetry which they argued depicted life as it is experienced, not merely a visual representation but a psychic and emotional one.
Modernists often focussed on progress, utopianism and idealism, visualising social ideals and finding ways to express the rush and whirl of technologies such as engines and aeroplanes.
In the early 1900s, modernist movements such as Cubism and Futurism emerged from modernist art, and their advocates valued minimalism, abstraction and changing perspective.
Influenced by these movements, ‘pure’ abstract art was pioneered by avant-garde artists such as Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich from 1910 onwards, creating striking compositions from simple combinations of colour and line.
However, abstract art is not limited to this narrow field and includes compositions which have their origin in visual reality, though the shapes and structures of the subject may be simplified.
Contemporary Abstract Artists in 2023
Contemporary art which can be called abstract is not hard to find, but how do you identify quality abstract art? When we share our collection, we ask our visitors to judge pieces based on the effect they produce when looked at over time.
Pause for a moment and allow the composition to guide your eye, the colours to influence your understanding, and drink in the details and choices the artist has made.
Here we share the work of some contemporary abstract artists that everyone should hear about.