The Basic Rundown

Abstract art, in its truest form, is rebellious. It doesn’t get caught up in the “What is it?” of it all, but rather forges a new path into the unknown. Unrecognizable brushstrokes, colors, shapes, and form work together in mysterious ways, steering our imagination into over-drive. Abstraction, generally accounts for a lack of representation of object or subject, and often distorts or disregards dimensionality altogether.

Do you keep gravitating toward abstracts? You’re probably an individual who is excited by ideas existing beyond the constraints of the physical, concrete world. And, if you don’t “get” abstract art…that’s okay – there may not be anything TO get. 

A Basic History

Abstract art shines light on images of our inner world, and is generally not representative of images of the outside, physical world. One of the first landmark artists in abstract paintings was Kazimir Malevich, who painted a completely black square in 1913. In the same year, Wassily Kandinsky painted a famous work, “Composition VII,” which introduced complexity to abstract painting.

However, the first abstract artist may have been Manierre Dawson, an American from Chicago. During a tour of Europe in 1910, he started painting true abstract works. Dawson, however, quit producing art, thinking he would never make money from it, and remained forgotten until a rediscovery in 1963. 

The word abstract is a container for many meanings, but it can generally be thought of as a conceptual layer beyond reality. Abstraction is the filter of the mind, a glimpse into the imagination of the artist. The advent of abstraction set the tone for most of the artistic movements in the 20th century. Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky is often regarded as the pioneer of European abstraction, while English painter J.M.W. Turner’s later works are widely regarded as a blur between that which defines a landscape and that which is abstract.

Frenchmaan Piet Mondrian, originally a moderately successful figurative artist, was introduced to the Parisienne arts establishment in the early 1900s and Picasso’s innovations in cubism during this time. This discovery of abstraction would profoundly affect the trajectory of his subsequent body of work. Mondrian’s style was self-described as neoplasticism —  a heightened form of abstraction and art in its most artificial form, free of the constraints of reality. His most famous works are still cornerstones of abstract inspiration in art and design today, such as Tableau I (1921) and Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow (1930).

Mondrian’s contemporary Kazimir Malevich used the term suprematism, connoting the supreme expression of art outside of natural constraints. Malevich’s Black Quadrilateral (1913) was described by Malevich thusly: “…to free art from the dead weight of the real world, I took refuge in the form of the square.’ Black Quadrilateral, is an icon of non-representational abstraction. Henri Matisse’s work which followed later took the abstraction riff back to nature 30 years later, with seminal works like The Snail (1953).

Today, abstract art is a canvas of experimentation, evoking meaning without explicit representation for artists. Abstract paintings can set subtle emotion and evocative moods to your space.


Abstract Works from Today’s Artists




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