Abstract art has become a major force in modern culture and many artists have used this new form of artistic expression to push the boundaries of what can be considered to be an object on canvas. This genre of painting has shifted the way we perceive objects, and has influenced our understanding of color and shapes in relation to each other.
The beginnings of this new style are difficult to pinpoint, but we can certainly see it developing throughout the early 20th century as artists were experimenting with how they could create art that didn’t necessarily contain recognizable objects. Artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko created paintings that were deceptively simple, but upon closer inspection revealed a complex composition of lines, layers, and skilled brushwork. These artists were able to remove the need for a narrative and instead allowed their work to invoke a mood in the viewer without being dependent on a specific subject or object.
Some of the earliest works of abstract art were created by artists who believed that the act of painting itself was art in its own right. For these artists, the process of creating a painting was a meditation that needed to be reflected in the final artwork. They pushed the boundaries of what was expected to be seen on canvas and sparked a movement that is now known as expressionism.
The early 1900s also brought the emergence of other abstract art movements that included the search for rationality and independence from external reality in geometric forms, as well as the desire to communicate spirituality through the purely symbolic use of color, shape and line. In this vein, works by Wassily Kandinsky and Hilma af Klint are often associated with the idea that abstraction could be used to represent invisible vibrations of energy.
Other works, like the rayist drawings of Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, sought to create an expressive language through the repetition of lines that resembled rays of light, and the Suprematist works of Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian were concerned with the re-shaping of our environment. During World War I, abstract art took on an entirely different tone as the Dada movement emerged, and focused on taking the absurdist view of life to a new level.
Today, abstract art continues to push the boundaries of what is acceptable on canvas. It has enabled artists to explore the ethereal, and provide viewers with a window into an artist’s innermost thoughts and feelings. We are able to see this through the many variations of abstract styles that continue to evolve with each passing year. With the endless possibilities of what can be achieved through this type of art, it is easy to understand why so many people are drawn to abstract prints.