We explain what abstract art is and how this type of expression arose. In addition, its characteristics and main representatives.

What is abstract art?

The art abstract is a style of artistic expression that features represent concepts abstracted from reality or independent of the recognizable by the senses, through freedom , irrationality and diversity of shapes, lines and colors. In other words, it is a subjective art that does not accurately or figuratively represent the visual reality that humans perceive.

It arose around 1900 and was the axis of modern art that encompassed various artistic movements, such as Cubism , Surrealism and De Stijl . Abstract art allows the generation of different interpretations or points of view depending on the recipient, since it does not seek to achieve perfection of the line or credible compositions.

It is considered as an art that reaches another dimension of morality and spirituality, because it expresses emotions and sensations separate from logic and objectivity.

Origin of abstract art

Origin of abstract art

The origin of the use of abstraction as a mode of artistic manifestation had its first manifestations between 1875 and 1905 with the post-impressionist movement that emerged in France, which rejected the limitations that impressionism supposed and tried to represent emotions, thus leaving aside some aspects of figurative reality.

Abstract art became evident in 1906 with the first publications of the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862 - 1944). She is considered the pioneer of abstract art because she made more than a thousand works before those published by Wassily Kandinsky (1866 - 1944), long considered the precursor or "father" of abstract art.

Klint studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, one of the few centers at the time to admit women. His academic knowledge added to his natural interest in spirituality were united in art and made up his personal touch.

At that time everything related to the esoteric was not well seen, especially if it came from a woman (who could be considered a witch) . That, added to the patriarchal society, contributed to the artist not standing out.

Around 1925 Klint abandoned painting to dedicate himself to theosophy (a religion made up of various doctrines), because abstract art was consolidated, but very few recognized his name or his work. It was from 1986 that his work took center stage worldwide and Klint was recognized as the true forerunner of abstract art.

However, not many were interested in modifying the history of art and continued to recognize only Kandinsky as one of the main pioneers. Kandinsky made abstract art known in 1911 in Germany through the publication of the book entitled De lo spiritual en el arte.

In his book he explained the symbolic relationship between internal impulses and manifestation through shapes, lines and colors. Shortly after World War II (1939 - 1945) abstract art was accepted as part of modern art painting and sculpture worldwide.

Characteristics of abstract art

Abstract art is characterized by:

  • Represent objects and scenes far from reality and the figurative notion that is known through the senses.
  • Propose a new reality independent of nature and logic.
  • Manifest the desire to get away from reality , which was lived as a time of crisis, uncertainty and political and social disorder.
  • Represent the subjectivity and spontaneity of the artist, which causes ambiguity in the perception of the receiver.
  • Manifest the conscience and the subconscious of the artist , through the use of shapes, lines and colors in a spontaneous and improvised way.
  • Differentiate from the credible style applied by previous movements, such as the Renaissance or the Baroque , in which the forms were as perfectly as possible, real and figurative.
  • Use contrasting , intense colors , strokes that vary in proportion and distorted shapes.

Abstract artistic movements

Abstract artistic movements

Among the main movements that were part of abstract art, the following stand out:

  • Cubism . It emerged from the 20th century to break with the Renaissance style. He sought to decompose natural forms, through geometric figures and lines, to rework them with the intention of moving them away from realistic representation.
  • Dadaism . It emerged in 1906 in Switzerland from the hand of a group of artists, after the First World War . The objective was to provoke changes and create representations against the traditional concept of beauty. The word Dada comes from French and refers to the babbling of infants with the sound given, which refers to fantasy or something far from reality.
  • Fauvism . It emerged in France around 1908 and manifested itself, especially, in painting. It was characterized by the use of strident colors and aggressive lines. The name comes from the French in which fauve means "beast" in allusion to the intense style.
  • Surrealism . It arose in France around 1924, during the post-war period, due to the need to investigate and express the deepest part of the human being through the representation of dreams, fantasies and the unconscious. It was a current that was influenced by the theory of psychoanalysis proposed by Sigmund Freud.
  • Neoplasticism . It emerged in 1917 in the Netherlands by the artist Piet Mondrian. It was a current that sought to renew aesthetics to represent the totality of reality through pure abstraction, reduced to the essential in terms of shape and color. It was also known as De Stijl, which comes from Dutch and means "Of Style", which was the name of a Dutch magazine that applied the movement to various disciplines such as painting, sculpture, architecture , design, poetry , music , among others.

Representatives of abstract art

Among the main representatives of abstract art are:

  • Franz Marc (1880 - 1916). He was a German painter who reflected in his works his interest in primitive peoples, children and the mentally ill. He died young, in 1916, because he enlisted as a military volunteer during the First World War (1914 - 1918).
  • Georges Braque (1882 - 1963). He was a French painter and sculptor who was noted for his cubist style. Through collage techniques, with the addition of numbers and letters, he managed to generate diverse perspectives in his representations.
  • Hilma af Klint (1862 - 1944). She was a Swedish artist, a pioneer of abstract art, who published her first paintings in 1906 (before Kandinsky in 1911). However, due to the context of patriarchal society and the fact that women with spiritual ideas were considered witches , her work did not have an impact until the late 20th century.
  • Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). He was an American painter considered one of the most recognized representatives of Abstract Expressionism . His technique was innovative, because he replaced the easel and began to paint directly with the canvas on the floor or on a wall and threw uniform lines or drips of paint.
  • Joan MirĂ³ (1893 - 1983). He was a Spanish painter and sculptor who manifested a strong interest in the subconscious and the child's view of the world through imagination. It was influenced by older artistic styles, such as cave paintings .
  • Juan Dubuffet (1901 - 1985). He was a French painter who was inspired by the art of children and madmen, that is, personalities that were not part of the artistic environment, with the aim of finding new ways to express themselves. He regarded it as crude art .
  • Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881 - 1973). He was a Spanish painter and sculptor who created Cubism, along with George Braque. He is considered one of the most recognized artists of the 20th century who managed to produce more than 43,000 works of art.
  • Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). He was a Dutch painter and one of the pioneers of abstract art and a member of the De Stijl current along with Theo van Doesburg.
  • Theo van Doesburg (1883 - 1931). He was a Dutch painter, poet and architect who learned on his own, without attending an art institution. He was influenced by Kandinsky, by the concept that true art went beyond mental and personal abstraction and by the idea of reducing forms through the simplest abstraction, as in Neoplasticism or De Stijl.
  • Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944). He was a Russian painter and writer considered one of the main pioneers of the abstract movement. He turned out to be an influential theoretical and practical one: his first published book was On the Spiritual in Art and his paintings were based on abstraction and expressionism.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


MA student of the TransAtlantic Masters program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Political Science with a focus on European Studies. Expressed ideas are open to revision. He not only covers Technical articles but also has skills in the fields of SEO, graphics, web development and coding. .

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