Abstract art will delight some and mystify others; therefore, it is necessary to define it, so that the viewer may decide for himself what is real and true. Abstract art springs from many sources, from the roots of Art Nouveau with its curlicues and swirls of industrial designer-type art and Cubism, that jagged sense of geometry imposing its will upon the natural world so that few can understand it, though many would discern in the angular line of a cityscape, for instance. But abstract art? From its beginnings in the breakaway schools of Impressionism and Picasso’s beginnings at the turn of the 20th century, abstract art departs from reality. This is strange for artists coming from a traditional school, with its emphasis on being true to reality and using the tools of the lines of perspective and the color wheel. Abstract art uses form and line and color to depict a subject abstractly, that is, its basis and not the uttermost detail of the artist’s view.
Now and again the term ‘abstract’ arises in modern day usage and indeed many are the painters of today who call themselves ‘abstract artists.’ An abstract artist may use digital art via the computer or other methods that do not use canvases and paint, but the enduring lure of a canvas is that it is solid and real, a thing to hold, take down from the wall and over to the window to see what sunlight does to its colors before returning it to the safety of the hanging place. If you should commission an abstract to do a ‘lyrical abstract’ piece, he or she would hark back to the origin of the term stemming from Aldrich’s first use of in circa 1969. Characterized by loose paint handling and intuitive, spontaneous expression, lyrical abstraction used newer technological techniques and led the way away from geometrical art such as that executed by Mondrian. Acrylic paints are the most common media, however, and the roots mentioned above, that of Art Nouveau, may be seen in the pastel and sepia color schemes and swirls of embellishments in a typical lyrical abstract piece. Post World War II, France searched for a new direction in her artistic wave and used lyrical abstraction, possibly as a gentler, kinder sort of expression far from the jagged edges of geometrical and cubism schools of art. It would be natural for a country to yearn for softer curves after the harshness of a World War.
So we see that abstract art offers a range of techniques and results: the dropped paint techniques of Jackson Pollock, the computerized digital art of so many on the Internet and the geometrical exactitude of a Mondrian all bear the common name, ‘abstract.’ Many times there is a range within one single painting, a part of the piece seeming almost photorealistic and the rest of the painting delving into the abstract world, giving a mutable effect to one canvas. From these many choices, surely you can discover a style to your taste and enjoy the work of an artist who releases his inner vision upon the world. You will expand your own mind as you do so, and the term ‘abstract art’ will no longer remain a mystery.