So Many …isms, Part 7

Today I will delve into abstract art and non-representational art. The styles of art are often lumped together, but there are significant differences between the two.  They key to understanding the differences is knowing the difference between representational and non-representational art. Abstract art is still representational, while non-objective art is not.

Representational work is generally harder to paint but it’s easier to understand. It is easy because the artist has done all the work for you. The scene has been set, characters introduced, mood established, etc. Sometimes this is done with extreme realism and to the other extreme, very loosely (abstraction).

In the example below I’ve taken a photo of a bowl of fruit (top left) and with Photoshop simulated a realistic painting (top right), an impressionistic painting (bottom left), and an abstract painting (bottom right). The abstraction of the photo could be taken even further, but it is still representational.

Non-objective art is visual art that does not represent a subject external to itself. It isn’t a picture of something. It is, rather, colors and forms that compose an image.There will be nothing identifiable as an object within a truly non-objective painting.

Non-representational work is heavily weighted on the idealistic/emotional end of the visual spectrum. Non-objective art can also be very scientific, the study of colors, edges, shapes, etc. Usually non-representational art relies on the viewer to have an emotional response to it. It might be considered “harder” art because the artist does not guide you, you as the viewer, need to interpret the painting.

Some well known abstract and non-objective artists are: Jackson Pollack, Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky, and Georgia O’Keefe.

Below are some contemporary artists who paint abstracts:

Below are some contemporary artists who paint non-objective art:


2 Responses to “So Many …isms, Part 7”

  1. Gorgeous and informative selection of work! I love the clarity of your writing and use of visually lush examples… It should be published!

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