Historical Giants of Abstract Art, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky and Delaunay
Historical Giants of Abstract Fine Art, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky and Delaunay
Abstract art, in the purest sense, uses a kind of visual language to present concepts that can be independent from real-world visual references. That is, an abstract rendering of a horse may not, to the casual observer, look anything like a real-world horse. Essentially, the artist has a tremendous degree of freedom in how closely the visual representation is tied to the real-world object. Any representation rendered in the style of abstract art may be a slight, partial, or complete departure from representing the real-world object. Any component of the painting, from color to technique to shape to line, may be modified to suit the particular artist’s vision of representation.
As one might imagine, such artistic freedom produces incredible variety within a fine art movement. The spectrum extends from nearly-perfect visual representation (think photorealism) of an object to total abstraction, in which there is nothing resembling coherent objects. Many artists have used abstract fine art to serve as a vehicle for social commentary, as the liberties one may take with otherwise familiar objects can quickly make an observer ask questions about the artist’s choices. Abstract art is, perhaps above all, intended to stimulate the mind of the viewer, questioning his or her perceptions as well as the visual representations he or she takes for granted.
Fine art critics tasked with deciphering abstract art galleries for the casual viewer had, depending on their historical era, a bit of a tall order. When an artist is deliberately subverting normal visual perception (i.e. our visual reality and its representation of objects as we normally see them), art critics must ask what choices the artists is consciously making (not an easy task when many abstract artists explore stream-of-consciousness in order to further subvert the decision-making process), as well as what certain aspects of the work may be trying to convey. We must remember that a lack of visual coherence does not necessarily coincide with a lack of message, meaning, or intent on the part of the artist.
As is the case with most art movements, abstractive styles drew heavily on the styles that came before it. Preceding styles such as Fauvism and Cubism blossomed across Europe and North America in the early 20th century, paving the way for abstract art that became even more divorced from strict visual representation. Pablo Picasso, perhaps the most famous abstract artist the world over, produced regularly during this time frame, with many of his pieces containing departures from strict visual reality. Other giants of the era included Wassily Kandinsky, Robert Delaunay, and Henri Matisse. These artists (among many others) combined to shape a fine art movement that continues to influence contemporary art today.
Keywords: abstract art, art movement, fine art, art critics, visual representation, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Robert Delaunay