What is Abstract Art Anyway?

One of the things that is often confusing for the casual artist or art observer is understanding the meaning of abstract. The precise definition is not really important for everyday life, but it is something that one runs into when going to a museum, gallery, or schoolroom.

Two Main Types of Art

Understand what abstract is, is easiest when a person understands the opposite of abstract. In the case of art it the opposite of abstract is representational. When something is representational, it represents something. In the case of this Picasso portrait, it clearly represents a woman wearing a hat. “But, it is abstract!”, you may say. In fact, almost all Picasso paintings and sculptures are not abstract, but at the same time, they do not represent their subjects in a strictly realistic way. The style in the following painting is called Cubism, but that is a lesson for another day.

Oh, Cubism. Y U so confusing?!

Oh, Cubism. Y U so confusing?!

True abstract art does not represent anything seen in either the natural or imaginative worlds (sorry unicorns). Abstract art may remind the viewer of something, like a sunset or a tree, but its very nature in non-representational. (Muslim art is almost entirely abstract since portraying the prophet Mohamed and other important religious figures is against the religion’s beliefs.) A great example of a painter who almost exclusively paints abstractly is Jackson Pollock.  Many people do not hide their disdain for Pollock’s work because it looks like paint splatters, and in a way it is , but in another way it is much more than merely streaks and globs of house paint. I like Picasso and Pollock, not because their work is the most amazing and beautiful art ever created by man, but because it pushed the boundaries and experimented with new techniques and concepts. Its like hair rock of the painting world.

I detect no representational things.

I detect no representational things.

My Own Work

For the most part, my doodles are representational. Most have a flower or feather or something that can be directly compared and recognized as something from the world. Today’s doodle, however, has only two slight flower things, and the rest is just geometric and free-flowing shapes, and of course, a duck. I’m very pleased with my color choices for this doodle. I find that I love orange and want to include it in all my drawings.

More abstract than usual

More abstract than usual

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