The other day, a woman walked into my Pop Up gallery. We spoke for about an hour about this and that and eventually touched upon the subject of my abstract art which she admitted feeling confused by. I did my best to explain my perspective and why the genre is so important on a cultural level. I’ve summed up some thoughts about this divisive art genre below.
Abstract art has had tremendous historical and cultural significance since it emerged as a major artistic movement in the early 20th century, during a time of enormous social, cultural, and intellectual change. The genesis of abstract art was closely linked to broader cultural and philosophical movements such as modernism, existentialism, and the search for new forms of expression in the wake of World War I.
Ok. But what is abstract art?
Fundamentally, non-figurative or abstract art does not necessarily attempt to represent the external reality of objects or subjects through recognizable forms, shapes, or figures. Instead, abstract art can use colors, shapes, lines, and other non-representational elements to create a unique visual language that is independent of any references based on any known “reality”.
In other words, abstract art is not concerned with depicting objects or people as they appear in the real world, but rather with creating visual experiences that exist in their own right. This type of art often emphasizes the use of color, texture, and form to convey emotions, ideas, or concepts that are not necessarily tied to anything in the physical world.
To me, one of the primary appeals of abstract art lies in its ability to evoke a range of emotional and intellectual responses from viewers. Because it does not rely on recognizable forms or subject matter, abstract art is open to interpretation and invites onlookers to engage with it on an intuitive level. This allows for a more personal and subjective experience of the artwork, as different viewers may have different reactions and associations with the same piece. So, as with the aforementioned visitor to the gallery the other day, confusion is a perfectly acceptable reaction.