Abstract art is referred to as non-figurative, non-objective, geometric abstraction, non-representational and concrete art. All these terms apply to any abstract painting or drawing that does not portray recognisable scenes or objects. Art critics and artists have different views regarding abstract art: for instance, Picasso thought that there was no such thing as abstract art while some critics have come to the conclusion that all art is abstract.


What is Abstract Painting?

In modern culture, most people use the word abstract for something that is impossible to comprehend. An abstract painting does not have to be vague or unclear: there is a formula to read an abstract painting just as there is to read and construe a more realistic piece of art. Walking through the history of modern art is a good way to get a better understanding of abstract painting as a movement.

What is the evolution of abstract painting?

Stone Age Art

Abstract art began seventy thousand years ago with the prehistoric engravings: these were two pieces of rocks engraved with geometric patterns i.e. the engravings found in the Blombos Caves in South Africa. Other forms of abstract art include the hand stencils discovered in the El Castillo Cave Paintings, the Altamira Cave Paintings. Abstract paintings later became the central art of Paleolithic cave art to replace figurative images.


Up until the mid-19th century, all art was representational: the main ambition of the painters was to develop perfect illusions of reality. Initially, the majority of the paintings served purposes of religious dogma, historical commemorations, and commissioned portraiture but later trends depicted people and socially realistic subjects.


The term “Impressionism” came up after a critic played down Claude Monet’s skill labelling his art as just an impression of a sunrise. This form of art developed to become the first movement away from realism art. Artists such as Degas, Seurat and Renoir emphasised the importance of impressionism over realism. These artists studied the effects of lights, time and perspective on a scene instead of its exact representation.


This type of art started in Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century: this style was quickly picked up by artists around the world including Paul Klee, Edvard Munch, and Marc Chagall. They created a blend of emotions and explicit moods in their paintings. The primary goal of art, therefore, was to portray the mind-set of the painter at the time of painting: sometimes, the scene was entirely different from reality. Expressionism led to the revelation of brushstrokes and the intentionally painterly method.

Post-Impressionism and Cubism

As the twentieth century progressed, the artist’s way of seeing things led to movements such as Cubism, this style was developed by Pablo Picasso to show scenes and objects in the way the human eye sees them. Cubist painting does not show an object from one angle but as a vibrant shifting object. It was artists such as Paul Cezanne who developed impressionist art further by moving closer to abstraction. These artists distorted colours and shapes instead of more realistic representations of the world.


In the middle of the twentieth century, Surrealism became an important part of modern art by focusing on the inclusion of random chance in the artistic practice and described the unconscious mind in a non-representational way. The greatest legacy by these surrealists was picking another place other than the real world.

Abstract Expressionism

This style of painting focused entirely on the paint as the subject, and the abstract was the artist’s interaction with material: it was popularised by artists such as William de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Franz Kline.

Minimalism, Post-Painterly, and Pluralism

The leading artists who used this style included Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella, they continued to experiment with colour but emphasised on the hard-edged form. This form expanded the ideas of the artists to introduce new themes such as politics and consumerism as the primary tool of representation.

Abstract Modern Painting

In contemporary art, Pluralism is the pivotal characteristic by combining different styles, techniques, and even realism. Abstract modern painting is an art loved by many art lovers.

How can you choose a nice abstract painting to suit your living room?

Abstract painting is the best medium for your home if you need a burst of energy in your space. Abstract art complements your décor with distracting images, objects and scenes. A painting with yellow sharp lines and tones is ideal for your bedroom while one with grey lines create a sense of peace for your living room. As a bonus, your guests will find their interpretation that adorns your living space.