Abstract art is sometimes misunderstood, but that, ironically, is what makes it beautiful.
Abstract art is art in its purest form. Below is a brief history of abstract art and an easy-to-understand, layman’s introduction to the term.
Most art produced today can be said to be abstract art and, in fact, that has been the case for more than 100 years. The development of photography in the late 19th century and its evolution today have freed artists from the obligation to recreate “picture perfect” paintings that reflected reality precisely. And that has given birth to the everlasting abstract art revolution. Artists today are no longer expected, nor do most even desire, to simply paint what their eyes see. Instead, they paint their interpretations of what they see, and that is abstract art. This lack of objectivity means that today’s art is often complicated and easily misunderstood. But, for the art lover willing to spend time studying paintings for their subtle merits and messages, abstract art is endlessly exciting.
Abstract art is best compared to poetry or literature. Rather than to simply report the facts, the way a piece of non-fiction does, a good poem gives much more: it reveals the writers attitudes and feelings towards what he is writing. Abstract art does much the same. By experimenting with shades of colors that would not necessarily be found together in nature, an abstract art painter can portray moods that would not be seen in a painting that attempted to create a scene realistically. Just the way, say, the legendary writer Edgar Allan Poe took great care to choose every word of his poems and stories to evoke a constant feeling of horror, a good abstract art painter can choose every brush stroke and every color to conjure a specific emotion. This is what makes abstract art, perhaps, the purest form of art. It captures, as many scholars and critics have noted, all that it means to be human.
Abstract art, despite its beauty and excitement, can be difficult to interpret (just as some poems are), and that leads to frustration among many viewers. Often, for example, novice viewers will stroll through a museum filled with abstract art and marvel at what appears to be paint simply splashed thoughtlessly on canvas after canvas. “Gee, I can do that,” the uninitiated might be heard to mumble under their breath.
Eventually, though, the novice art lover will come to understand that, even the most amateurish looking of masterpieces, are, underneath the service, elaborate, master-crafted works of art. The artist has carefully chosen every drop of paint to evoke a certain feeling and express a certain attitude. Sometimes the feelings and attitudes can be directed toward a specific thing, but often, they are simply evoked for their own sake. Only abstract art, for example, can make a viewer feel happy (or sad or frightened or angry) without providing anything concrete to be happy (or sad or frightened or angry) about. A bright yellow painting with plenty of pink, green and light blue brush strokes strategically arranged can brighten up anyone’s day – even if those brush strokes represent nothing in particular.
Abstract art, like nothing else, helps us all to experience everything that it means to be alive.