Rhythm, Robert Delaunay, 1912

Abstract art: an inverted painting as a forerunner of a new style

Mondrian Self-Portrait.
Mondrian Self-Portrait.

Abstract art is a style of painting and art in general, which rejects realistic reproduction of the surrounding world. His followers depict simple and complex shapes, play with color, use lines, planes and other objects, combining them in such a way as to create certain emotions in the viewer.

This is how their approach differs from that used by masters who adhere to classicism and many other styles. At the first glance at a picture painted by an abstractionist, it may seem that it is a chaotic jumble of lines, shapes and spots. On closer examination, it becomes clear that the artist has created a holistic composition designed to evoke certain thoughts or moods in the viewer.

Ordination of verticals, František Kupka
Ordination of verticals, František Kupka

The emergence of Abstract art

Abstractionism as a direction of painting appeared in 1910, when the Russian artist and theorist of fine arts Wassily Kandinsky wrote his first abstract watercolor. Vasily Vasilyevich himself later said that he simply turned over one of the paintings by Claude Monet. It seemed to him that in this orientation she looks much better than in the usual one, and this is what prompted him to use abstraction in his work.

Woman with a Fan II, Alexander Archipenko
Woman with a Fan II, Alexander Archipenko

Abstractionism after its creation by Kandinsky began to develop actively. The artist’s followers in this direction were Mikhail Larionov and Natalia Goncharova, who formulated the philosophy of the style and developed one of its branches – Rayonism, or regionalism. An important role in the development of abstractionism was played by Kazimir Malevich, who made the technique of abstractness completely pointless, developing such a direction as Suprematism.

Studying the events of those times when abstractionism appeared, we can conclude that there were several reasons for the emergence of this style. One of them is the demand for change that emerged in pre-revolutionary society. At the beginning of the 20th century, many were tired of the established traditions – both in art in particular, and in life in general.

Cats (Rayonist Perception in Rose, Black and Yellow), Natalia Goncharova, 1913
Cats (Rayonist Perception in Rose, Black and Yellow), Natalia Goncharova, 1913

People wanted something new

People wanted something new, and abstractionism, which from a certain point of view can be considered extremism in art, gave them this. Another reason for the appearance of the style was the stratification of cubism, expressionism and futurism, which went on in the 10s of the last century. In the course of this process, innovative solutions appeared in painting, implying a rejection of realism and becoming the basis of abstractionism.

The emerging style became, without exaggeration, the beginning of a new era in painting. From now on, the artist could completely abandon restrictions and frameworks and freely express himself, embodying emotions, thoughts and sensations in his works. Note that abstractionism did not receive recognition immediately – for some time it remained in the underground and was criticized and condemned. Over time, the situation changed, and abstract painting gained recognition and took its rightful place among the many styles.

Composition VIII. 1923
Composition VIII. 1923

The main directions of abstractionism

Abstractionism, as it developed, stratified into several directions, each of which had its own representatives. There were such types of style as:

  • geometric. In the works of artists executed in this style, clear forms and lines prevail, many of them create the illusion of depth;
  • color. Masters who adhere to this direction actively work with colors and their combinations – it is through them that they convey the emotions that they want to create in the audience;
  • minimalistic. The essence of this direction of painting is in the complete absence of references to real objects and the extremely restrained use of colors, shapes and lines;
  • expressive. Artists working in this direction strive to bring dynamics, movement into their works, through which they convey emotions and sensations. At the same time, shades, lines and shapes fade into the background.
Abstract art, Rhythm, Robert Delaunay, 1912
Rhythm, Robert Delaunay, 1912, Abstract art
The most famous representatives of abstract art

During the existence of abstractionism in different countries of the world, many artists who adhere to this style have become famous. Among them:

  1. Wassily Kandinsky;
  2. Kazimir Malevich;
  3. Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan;
  4. Mikhail Larionov;
  5. Natalia Goncharova;
  6. Barnett Newman
  7. František Kupka;
  8. Alexander Archipenko;
  9. Ivan Marchuk; Yuri Zlotnikov;
  10. Robert Delaunay
  11. Pavel Filonov.
Abstract art, Yellow-red-blue. 1925
Yellow-red-blue. 1925, Abstract art
Abstract art, sportsmen 1928-30
sportsmen 1928-30, Abstract art