Confess – you’ve looked at a priceless painting and said to yourself, “I could have painted that, and so could a second-grader.” After all, the contents of the painting are unrecognizable – just a bunch of lines, shapes, colors, patterns and textures.
Maybe it made you uncomfortable because, at first glance, you really didn’t understand it. After 15 minutes, you still didn’t understand it, and you would be embarrassed to ask someone to explain it to you.
The beauty of abstract art is that it’s open to interpretation. Just like an abstract painting represents the real thoughts, emotions, interactions and contemplations of the artist, it may represent something completely different to you. And that’s okay.
A Brief History
Three 19th century art movements – Romanticism, Impressionism and Expressionism – contributed to the development of abstract art. The work of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin and Seurat was extremely influential in the advent of abstraction in the 20th century.
By the mid-20th century, abstract art in America pushed the boundaries of previous movements even further, with artists like Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline using paint, large canvases and the act of painting itself as the subject. These artists created abstract yet very real representations of their feelings and emotions.
Today, abstract art has expanded to the digital realm, dominated by an “anything goes” attitude, with dozens of art movements falling under the umbrella of abstraction.
Don’t Feel Like You Have To “Get It”
Pablo Picasso once said, “”Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? People who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”
In reality, there’s nothing to “get” with abstract art. What you see on canvas – or on your computer monitor – requires imagination and sometimes introspection. Perhaps an inquisitive approach. Explore artwork and see where it takes you.
Your interpretation of abstract art will never be right or wrong. Only by giving abstract art your own personal meaning will you truly experience and appreciate its beauty and the statement it makes.
What are your interpretations of the artwork above?