ArtLex Art Dictionary

abstraction and abstract art - Imagery which departs from representational accuracy, to a variable range of possible degrees, for some reason other than verisimilitude. Abstract artists select and then exaggerate or simplify the forms suggested by the world around them. The paintings of Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) and Georges Braque (French, 1882-1963) as well as the sculptures of Henry Moore (English, 1898-1987), Barbara Hepworth (English, 1903-1975), and Jacques Lipchitz (Russian-American, 1891-1973) are examples of abstract art. Wassily Kandinsky, (Russian, 1866-1944), was one of the first creators of pure abstraction in modern painting. After successful avant-garde exhibitions, he founded the influential Munich group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider; 1911-1914), when his paintings became completely abstract. His forms evolved from fluid and organic to geometric and, finally, to pictographic.




James Abbott McNeill Whistler American, 1834-1903), Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1: Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1871, oil on canvas, 4 feet 8 3/4 x 5 feet 3 3/4 inches, Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France. With planes and shapes flattened, and color muted, Whistler's portrait demonstrates his devotion to aestheticism and art for art's sake. Accordingly, Whistler prefered to describe this paintings as an arrangement much as music is an arrangement of pure forms making him a precursor to abstract art. See asymmetry — asymmetrical balance and rectangle.




see thumbnail to rightWassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866-1944), Landschaft mit Turm (Rural Landscape), 1908, oil on cardboard, 74 x 98.5 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.



Wassily Kandinsky, Improvisation XIV, 1910, oil on canvas, 74 x 125.5 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.



see thumbnail to rightWassily Kandinsky, Study for Improvisation V, 1910, oil on cardboard pulp, 27 5/8 x 27 1/2 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Arts. See study.



Wassily Kandinsky, Impression V (Park), 1911, oil on canvas, 106 x 157.5 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.




see thumbnail to rightWassily Kandinsky, Mit dem schwarzen Bogen (With a Black Arc), 1912, oil on canvas, 189 x 198 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.




Wassily Kandinsky, Bild mit rotem Fleck (Picture with Red Marks), 1914, oil on canvas, 130 x 130 x 0 x 0 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.




see thumbnail to rightWassily Kandinsky, In the Gray, 1919, oil on canvas, 129 x 176 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris. See Bauhaus.



Wassily Kandinsky, Entassement réglé (Ordered Compression), 1938, oil and "ripolin" on canvas, 116 x 89 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.



Augustus Vincent Tack (American, 1870-1949), Untitled (Abstraction), c. 1930, oil on canvas laid down on gessoed Masonite, 36 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, U of Nebraska, Lincoln, an anonymous loan.



Frantisek [aka Franz or Frank] Kupka (Czech, 1871-1957), Plans verticaux I, 1912-1913, oil on canvas, 150 x 94 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris. See Czech art and Orphism.



Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872-1944), New York City I, 1942, oil on canvas, 119.3 x 114.2 cm, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. See De Stijl.




see thumbnail to rightConstantin Brancusi (Romanian-French, 1876-1957), Bird in Flight, c. 1940, polished bronze, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin.



see thumbnail to leftKatherine Dreier (American, 1877-1952), Abstract Portrait of Marcel Duchamp, 1918, oil on canvas, Museum of Modern Art, NY. See Dada and portrait.



Kasimir Malevich (Russian, 1878-1935), Black Square, c. 1923-1930, oil on plaster, 36.7 x 36.7 x 9.2 cm, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.




see thumbnail to rightFrancis Picabia (born Francis Martinez de Picabia) (French, 1879-1953), Red Trees, c. 1912, oil on canvas, 92.5 x 73.4 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.



Arthur G. Dove (American, 1880-1946), Ice and Clouds, 1931, oil on board, 19 1/2 x 26 3/4 inches (49.53 x 67.95 cm), Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH.



Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), Femme assise dans un fauteuil (Seated Woman), 1910, oil on canvas, 100 x 73 cm, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. See Cubism.




Stanton MacDonald-Wright (American, 1890-1973), Canon Synchromy (Orange), 1919, oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 24 1/8 inches, Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, U. of Minnesota. See Synchromism.



see thumbnail to rightPaul Strand (American, 1890-1976), Abstraction, Twin Lakes, Connecticut, 1916, depicted: Connecticut, United States of America, silver and platinum print, 32.8 x 24.4 cm (12 15/16 x 9 5/8 inches), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See photography.



Stuart Davis (American, 1894-1964), Egg Beater No. 1, 1927, oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 36 inches (74 x 91.4 cm), Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.




Ben Nicholson, OM (English, 1894-1982), 1924 (first abstract painting, Chelsea), c. 1923-4, oil and pencil on canvas, 55.4 x 61.2 cm, Tate Gallery, London.



Arshile Gorky (American, born Armenia, 1904-1948), The Betrothal, II, 1947, oil on canvas, 50 3/4 x 38 inches (128.9 x 96.5 cm), Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. See Abstract Expressionism.



see thumbnail to rightHans Hartung (French, born Germany, 1904-1989), T 1973, E-13, 1973, oil on canvas, 111 x 180 cm, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran. See diagonal and scribble.




Terry Frost (English, 1915-), Green, Black and White Movement, 1951, oil on canvas, 109.2 x 85.1 cm, Tate Gallery, London.





see thumbnail to rightRichard Diebenkorn (American, 1922-1993), Ocean Park Series No.49, 1972, oil on canvas, 93 x 81 inches (236.2 x 205.7 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.



Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997), the six prints in the "Bull Profile Series," see thumbnail to right Bull I, (the most figuratively representational image of the six)




see thumbnail to leftBull II,




see thumbnail to rightBull III,




see thumbnail to leftBull IV,




see thumbnail to rightBull V,



see thumbnail to leftand Bull VI (the most abstract image of the six), 1973, each is a linoleum cut on paper, and each is 68.5 x 89.0 cm, Tate Gallery, London. See Pop Art.



see thumbnail to rightGerhard Richter (German, 1932-), Abstract Painting No. 439, 1978, oil on canvas, 200.0 x 300.0 cm, Tate Gallery, London. See German art.




see thumbnail to leftGerhard Richter, G.A.4 (21.1.84), 1984, colored inks, watercolor, pencil and crayon on paper, 5 7/8 x 8 1/4 inches (15 x 21 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.




see thumbnail to right Gerhard Richter, Breath, 1989, oil on canvas, Milwaukee Art Museum, WI.




see thumbnail to leftSam Gilliam (American, 1933-), Abstraction, 1969, acrylic on aluminum-treated paper. See African American art .


see thumbnail to rightTaylor _____ (American, contemporary, at 10 years old), House Cat, from Realistic to Abstract, 2005, colored pencils on paper, 6 x 18 inches. See realism and more children's art of this sort.




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Also see Abstract Expressionism, art for art's sake, interdisciplinary, likeness, nonobjective art, stylize, symbol, and verisimilitude.




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