The moment you place your first step in an abstract art gallery or when you witness an abstract painting, you have entered the most baffling, mystical, and appealing spheres of art. Abstraction is one of the most precious gifts that our ancestors have given. The mastery of depicting your emotions by just using imagination and unstructured patterns is, IMHO, the perfect way to define what art really is.
With the industrial revolution, everything changed for the world. The middle class was born, people started to travel more, and the world was easily reachable from all corners of the world. This was the time that few of the artists dared to stand against the traditional methods and academic style of art. A concept that art is not only meant to see and draw, but to think and create, changed everything.
However, Abstraction doesn’t just emerge out of nowhere. There were few art movements over a span of a few decades that slowly and eventually evolved to come out as an abstract style. Most of these movements were part of modernism and were started on the common line of making art more liberal and free.
Art Movements that boosted the spur of Abstraction
As said, abstraction became a sensational revolution in the art world because the stage was already set by the art movements that started a few decades before its inception.
This was perhaps the first attempt from modern artists to shift away from the conventional theory of art. Impressionism is classified by the minute, fine, and vaguely visible brush strokes, the exquisite focus on reflecting the dynamically transforming light textures, and simple themes. Artists were more centric to represent the effects of passage time through colour combinations and non-uniform brush strokes.
This movement took its birth in France (The then art capital of the world) and saw ferocious critical reviews from the advocates of traditional and academia style.
It is said that, in the early 1860s, four now known artists who were young then met each other while assessing the work of Charles Gleyre. These artists were Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Harnessing their common interest to represent the landscape and contemporary life instead of historical events or mythological tales, these artists travelled across France, creating majestic pieces in an open environment.
With light playing a major part in their paintings, the work of these artists took some time but was eventually accepted by the common public. Another artist of impressionism was Cézanne.
Visit any abstract art gallery and you would find it extremely difficult to actually comprehend what is the exact year when abstraction actually came. Some say it was the 1860s while most of the others will tell you that abstraction came into the existence in 1910.
Well, to an extent, the second answer is more sensible. It was cubism that was prevalent for a decade (1910 to 1920). This movement was inspired by the 3-D style in the later paintings of Paul Cézanne. Cubism was spearheaded by great modern painters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Cubism made a much larger impact on the multiple nations where as a response to it, a number of art movements took birth. A few of these were Futurism, Suprematism, Dada, Constructivism, De Stijil, etc. In short, cubism exhibited an amalgamation of the past and the present where multiple interpretations can be made from a single piece. Sounds like abstract art, isn’t it?
Another art movement that started in France in the form of les Fauves, a term used for a group of modern artists who were focused on the artistic skills and bold colours over the conventional style. Impressionism retained a few elements of traditional or academia style of art like representational or realistic values.
The art movement began in 1904 and went well beyond 1910. Although this particular art movement was small (as it had only three exhibitions), it had a strong influence on the origin of abstraction as such. Prominent artists of this era were Henri Matisse and Andre Derain.
Elements of Abstract Art
While exploring an abstract art gallery, you should be excited and prepared at the same time. The preparation I am talking about is comprehending the aspects of abstract paintings. For an instance, what are the factors you should be looking in famous abstract art? Following are some elements that would offer you much clarity:
- Line: In an abstract painting, every line, every shadow, every glimpse of colour matters. The lines in abstract artworks are known to be simple, lyrical, quite aggressive, and full of rhythms. An abstract painter utilises the lines in varied ways to bring versatility and non-uniformness in the art piece.
- Texture: The abstract artist shows that it is important to enjoy using different textures rather than focusing on the end results.
- Shape: Abstraction has told us that there are endless possibilities for the shape within a painting. The aesthetics of the shape is of not of any relevance in an abstract painting but the quality that these shapes carry along with them matters a lot.
- Form: Get to know what form of abstract painting is there to really decode the meaning inside.
- Colour: Colours obviously play a vital role in the overall composition of an abstract painting. Artists are known to utilize bold colour combinations and vivid shades to evoke emotions out of the observers.
- Value: Yes, abstraction is all about the value embedded inside. A non-structured stroke of a brush, a mysterious gap between shades, and appealing geometric figures, they all carry some value in an abstract art painting.