Monthly Archives: July 2016

Abstract Art Galleries

Abstract Art Galleries

An abstract art gallery or museum usually hosts art exhibitions and is also used as a location for the sale of art. Some of the abstract art form represented in such museums includes fauvism, cubism, surrealism and abstract expressionism.

Some famous abstract art galleries in the world are Centre Pompidou, located in Paris, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Pecci Museum of Contemporary Art and Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Italy. England hosts some famous abstract art museums like Annely Juda, Estorick Collection, Modern Art Oxford, Serpentine Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate St Ives, Tate Liverpool and Pier Art Gallery. The United States also boosts two popular art galleries, the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum.

Centre Georges Pompidou, commonly known as Pompidou Centre, houses around 50,000 art works including paintings, sculptures, drawings and photographs. On the other hand, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a small museum on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, which primarily contains the personal art collection of Peggy Guggenheim. However, the museum also displays collections of other prominent American modernists and Italian futurists, and includes work based on themes of cubism, surrealism and abstract expressionism. The museum has gained prominence in Italy for its collection of European and American art of the first half of the 20th century.

England houses some well-known art galleries. Modern Art Oxford and the Tate Gallery have some amazing abstract art collections. Modern Art Oxford was established in 1969 by a small group of Oxford dons and hosts works of renowned artists like Tracey Emin. Tate Gallery encompasses Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate St. Ives and Tate Modern, and houses some of the best abstract art in the world.

In the US, the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum exhibit some famous work of abstract artists. The Museum of Modern Art houses some best modern masterpieces in the world, like Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso, The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí, and Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian, among others. It also displays works by leading American artists like Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, and Edward Hopper. On the other hand, the Whitney Museum displays contemporary American art by some lesser-known artists.

Abstract art galleries provide a unique opportunity for art lovers to study and admire the works of their favorite artists, and with modern technology, most of these art works are also accessible to art patrons through virtual art museums.

Geometric Abstract Art

Geometric Abstract Art

In our often chaotic world, geometric abstract art creates a sense of balance and structure. To the casual observer, however, it can sometimes seem too intellectual and detached from the natural world. It is often judged to be lacking in emotion, whereas the grand gestures of the abstract expressionist painters convince viewers more easily of their passion for life. However, to dismiss it in this way is to do it a great disservice and we need only to consider the motivation behind the work of some of the great geometric abstract artists to find proof of this.

Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian are two of the earliest geometric abstract artists and both embraced the use of order and geometry in their paintings to convey emotion in its purest form. The boundaries they created in their abstract geometric paintings celebrate spiritual aspects of the human experience and go far beyond the world of our immediate understanding.

For Malevich, geometric abstraction was the perfect way to strip back the clutter of life and to get to the heart of what really mattered: the communication of pure artistic feeling. This ‘supremacy’ of feeling was fundamental to his work. (Malevich and his followers were known as Suprematists). He chose to use a simple black square against a white background to convey this. The black square expressed the feeling and the white surrounding it expressed the void beyond.

For Mondrian, a pattern of strong black lines encasing blocks of primary colour on a white background was the perfect visual language to convey his belief in a world beyond our reality. Theo van Doesburg, a co-founder with Mondrian and others of the De Stijl movement, was equally inspired by this abstraction of reality and use of geometric shapes and patterns.

Wassily Kandinsky, credited with producing the first abstract painting, using only shapes and form to express his visceral responses to music and colour, also embraced geometric abstract art, particularly during his period as a teacher at the Bauhaus.

These artists had none of the visual images of the geometry in nature so widely available now yet they had an innate understanding of the way in which geometric shapes and patterns were so fundamental to the structure of the world. Geometric abstract art was the equivalent of a universal visual and artistic language.

They demonstrated that triangles, squares, circles and straight lines carefully placed and repeated with precision can take us beyond the boundaries of our perceived reality. Their work offers the viewer an unexpected level of emotional engagement that is both moving and hypnotic.

A new generation of abstract geometric artists emerged in the 1950s and set out to dispense with the overspill of emotion they perceived in the work of the abstract expressionists of the time. Artists such as Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella and Al Held turned to geometric abstraction as a means of making their art less subjective. Colour is central to their work, as is their use of hard edges and the elimination of all signs of brushwork. Their paintings echo the purity of feeling that Kasimir Malevich sought to convey. There is simplicity and beauty in this approach and few artists demonstrate this better than Ellsworth Kelly whose large geometric shapes in vivid primary colours create a powerfully engaging visual experience.

The best geometric abstract art assures us that all is well with the world and reflects back to us something we innately understand: that our world is not the chaotic, disorganised place it sometimes seems but rather an exquisitely designed, well-ordered and balanced environment we can only marvel at.

Abstract Art Paintings

Abstract Art Paintings

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In general terms, abstract art paintings break the monotony of realism and reject the fact that paintings should depict pragmatism. In the pre-World War II era, abstract art painters mostly depicted spiritualism or intellectualism, rejecting the 20th century motto of “art for art’s sake” and replacing realism with spirituality and rationality. Furthermore, with the advent of the technology age, abstract art has gained greater significance.

Painting as an art form has undergone several changes, especially during the 20th century, wherein a transition from figurative painting to abstract painting was the chief feature of the era. Renowned painter Pablo Picasso is generally believed to have ushered the shift from figurative to abstract painting. Picasso, along with George Braque, formulated a new pictorial representation known as cubism, wherein the artists depicted an object as seen from a different viewpoint.

Abstract art painting took a further leap in 1911 with the creation of synthetic cubism and analytical cubism. These forms of cubism fragmented the subject in the painting, for example, in analytical cubism, painters used crystalline geometry, while in synthetic cubism the subjects were reduced in size. Artists like Piet Mondrian, whose paintings ultimately led to the first non-figurative paintings or pure abstract art from 1914 onwards, pioneered such forms of cubist painting. In the twentieth century, Russian painter Wassily Kandisky pioneered non-figurative art.

Furthermore, in the 1940s, another form of abstract art called Abstract Expressionism emerged, in which the theory of expressionism was applied to abstract paintings. The art form had an enormous impact on contemporary American artists, with New York becoming the hub of Abstract Expressionism. Jackson Pollock in his action paintings used this technique of abstract expressionism wherein he dripped, dropped, smeared or threw paint onto the canvas to create an art object. Other well-known followers of Abstract Expressionism, also known as the New York School and Action Painting, are Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.

Abstract art painting does not refer to any figurative reality; instead it depicts real forms in a simplified or reduced way, creating an allusion of the original subject.

The Abstract Expressionism Movement

The Abstract Expressionism Movement

The Abstract Expressionism Movement, also called the New York School was exclusively an American abstract art movement that mainstreamed in New York City in the period following the Second World War. This movement was significant in the sense that it was the earliest American movement to declare non-dependence on European styles and to get a sway all over the globe. It also enabled New York City to replace Paris as the art hub. Prior to its reference to American art, “abstract expressionism” was a term used in the Berlin periodical named ‘Der Sturm’, in 1919.

Arshile Gorky played an important role in inducing The Abstract Expressionism Movement. The abstract art works produced during the period of this movement are considered to be a combination of certain visual aspects of abstract European schools like Futurism, Synthetic Cubism and Bauhaus with the self-expression and emotional strength of German Expressionism. Though this abstract art was a mixture of a number of styles, its basic philosophy was to search and seek out answers for questions relating to human existence.

There are many similarities of style between abstract expressionism art and the work of Russian artists of the early 1900’s, the most prominent being Wassily Kandinsky. The abstract art from this period of the movement is often characterised by giving the impression of being produced in an act of artistic spontaneity. The work of pioneers of the movement such as Kandinsky, Kunz and later Rothko dealt with the expression of subjects including spirituality and the subconscious. However, meticulous planning and conscious thought was often involved in creating the many of the well known works of art which define this period of the expressionist movement.

In the 1930’s in North America, prior to the mainstream acceptance of abstract art, social realism art had been the prominent genre of art. Mexican social realists such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros together with the Great Depression strongly influenced the acceptance and widespread popularity of this relatively short lived movement. Preceding the Second World War in the United States there arose a time of political sensitivity. Due this change in the political climate social protest made through art would no longer be tolerated. In American society an artistic vacuum had opened and the abstract expressionism movement arose into the mainstream, showcasing at major galleries in New York such as The Art of This Century Gallery. The abstract expressionist movement spread rapidly thorough the elite art community of the United States through its major artistic communities such including the San Francisco Bay area and California.

During the period of The Abstract Expressionism Movement, several artists started experimenting with shapes and colour. They broke away from what was considered to be artistic, conventional painting and painted complete canvases in blue, orange or other colours. Dripping, splattering and big brush strokes were characteristic features of Abstract Expressionist Art. The artists of this period preferred larger canvases positioned on the floor over canvases that were easel bound and moderate. The focus of abstract art within the expressionism movement was not the portrayal of objects but the portrayal of emotions.

In the broad sense, Abstract Expressionism was of two streams – Colour Field Painting and Action Painting. Colour field painting came up in the beginning of the 1960’s and involved using shape and colour to create religious serene paintings that were devoid of representative subject substance. The composition of colour field works were huge coloured areas with no forms or signs. Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko and Ellsworth Kelly were some painters associated with this type of painting. Action Painting was a painting stream that arose prior to Colour Field Painting (between the 1940s and 1950s) and practiced by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. The driving force for the works of these painters was often considered to be the painters’ soul and life energy.