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A Few Words About Abstract Art

what does abstract mean in art

Abstract art is art that does not represent visual reality in a precisely accurate way. Rather, it is a visual creation composed of lines, shapes, colors, and other marks. It is a departure from concrete depictions of real things or ideas–sometimes it is just a slight or partial departure, but other times it is a complete departure. Further, abstract art is sometimes meant to depict nothing in particular.

Abstract Art

The definition. Abstraction literally means the distancing of an idea from objective referents. That means, in the visual arts, pulling a depiction away from any literal, representational reference points. You can also call abstract art nonrepresentational art.

~ from “What is Abstract Art? And Why Should I Care?”

Abstract artists take certain creative license, altering the most realistic depictions in both conspicuous and inconspicuous ways. They create pieces that span from the most minor abstraction to total abstraction. They use a variety of techniques to make their art, often approaching each piece with experimentation in mind. Abstract artists think “outside the box” when it comes to aesthetics, usually leaning into the idea that the foundational components of a piece are the source of its beauty rather than a scaffolding that presents something beautiful.

The philosophical justification for appreciating the value of a work of art’s formal qualities stems from Plato’s statement that:

“straight lines and circles are… not only beautiful… but eternally and absolutely beautiful.”

In essence, Plato means that non-naturalistic images (circles, squares, triangles and so on) possess an absolute, unchanging beauty. Thus a painting can be appreciated for its line and colour alone – it doesn’t need to depict a natural object or scene.

~ from “Abstract Art: A General Guide”

Abstract art was born at the beginning of the 20th century. At this time the artistic landscape was predominantly made up of fauvism, cubism and figurative expressionism. This type of art is marked by its freedom of color, shapes and of course: its subject. So much so that little by little, the pictorial aspect was completely abandoned purely for form. The beginnings of abstract art are hard to pinpoint, however most people cite the year 1910 since that is when the first abstract watercolor was painted by Russian painter, Vassily Kandinsky.

The Naples Art District boasts the largest concentration of working artists in Southwest Florida, with over 90 professional artists maintaining studios and galleries there. The Naples Art District became a 501c(3) non-profit organization in 2016 and was officially recognized by Collier Country as a County Cultural Arts District in 2020. Do not hesitate to contact the District for more information about its mission and how it serves the community; and be sure to check out the organization’s calendar of events and list of classes offered by some of the member artists, which is available online for anyone who wants to explore the fine arts in greater depth and exercise their own creative muscles.