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Abstract Art - One of the World’s Most Thought Provoking Genres

Updated on April 18, 2014

The Abstract World

Abstract art has been creating controversy and pushes the envelope on social constructs since European Renaissance. The form breaks away from the constraints of classical technical and style enticing the viewer’s sight with brilliant, vibrant color, sharp and blunt shapes, and crude and daring contrast.

To see an abstract piece of art is indeed to be held captive in a world where anything is possible. It would seem that you are trapped by the artist story and the only view you are able to see is the picture the artist has painted for. Some of the most famous artists and expensive works of art fall under this genre and have lived on long past their origins.

Master of Expressionism, Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch, a noted expressionist, is known for 1895 “The Scream.” A ghost like figure standing on a bridge; mouth open in the form of "O," caught the underlying emotion of the human condition and has been a point of intrigue, drama, and theft since its inception. Munch created four contrasting versions of the scream. The fourth version is the breathtaking pastel most commonly viewed. The dreamlike pastel includes hues of orange, yellow, red and blue to speak to the mind and beautifully engage your sight.

The Scream

By Edvard Munch, Norwegian Painter
By Edvard Munch, Norwegian Painter

As expressionism uses color and whimsical lines, cubism manipulates shapes and spatial balance. No better example than the household name Pablo Picasso. Although classically trained, Picasso would move forward in his career as a cubist. A popular painting “Le Reve (The Dream)” painted in 1932 shows Picasso’s use of color, dramatic lines to create prominent shapes. The portrayal of a sleeping woman is not of seen in a smooth and clean image. Instead, the physique is created with a mosaic of bold shapes, thick lines, displaced in space where you mind wonders.

Picasso uses similar techniques with his 1941 painting “Dora Maar Au Chat,” amongst the most valuable paintings in the world. The woman in the painting was a love interest of Picasso a woman sitting with a small cat on her shoulders. However, working from the bottom of the painting to the top, Picasso paints a combination of figures to create her silhouette, the wooden chair, her lean torso, and asymmetrical face. There were many different adaptations to this painting prior to the addition expressing the emotional attachment for the artist.

Pablo Picasso Masterpieces

La Reve
La Reve
Dora Maar Au Chat
Dora Maar Au Chat

Mark Rothko, Pioneer in Abstract Art

Pulling away from the ostentatious style of cubism, abstract art also give an extreme focus on color. Mark Rothko’s 1961 “Orange, Red, Yellow” the red rectangle at the bottom of golden yellow canvas does not bring a character to life but instead uses color to bring the audience to life. The simple canvas illuminates such consideration with texture and warmth.

Orange, Red, Yellow by Mark Rothko

Orange, Red, Yellow was sold at Christies for almost $87 Million in 2012
Orange, Red, Yellow was sold at Christies for almost $87 Million in 2012

Francis Bacon, Bolt and Emotionally Raw

The beauty about abstract art is that there are no rules and artist take true luxury in it. The take luxury the way they view the world. No one better shows that diverse expression than Francis Bacon’s 1969 “Three Studies of Lucien Freud.” The canvas also shows a great bond between the artist and the subject being that Freud and Bacon were friends when this canvas was painted. The three panels depict Freud with a contorted face, sitting in a barred frame, from three different angles. The face in all three panels is almost unrecognizable as Bacon has disjointed the face yet still focused attention to the body and the frame of a man.

Three Studies of Lucien Freud

Sold for $142.2 Million - The most expensive painting ever sold at an auction, not considering inflation.
Sold for $142.2 Million - The most expensive painting ever sold at an auction, not considering inflation.

Art has always been a world of strict rules, discipline and attempts at perfection. Abstract paintings have always been popular for pulling away from the expectations. Art can easily be considered a reflecting glass meant to mirror the everyday marvels in life. While abstract art shows you that life is full of possibilities not all of the lines are winding, not all of the faces are smiling, not all of our colors are mute and dull. In fact quite the contrary because our minds a create alternatives.

It is that alternative popularity that keeps some of the famous originals and countless others mass produced and selling. There is a perfect style and unique touch for anyone’s interest. Between both online wall art and walk through art galleries, there is a piece of art to warm any space in any price range.

Most Popular Abstract Styles

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The Most Valuable (expensive) Painting in the World

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