What is abstract art? And why and where did it start?
Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect (Tate.org uk).
There are different theoretical meanings what abstract art should be. Some meant it should be like music, other that it should be made from pure lines, forms and colours, and some meant art should only be art for its own sake. The Greek philosopher Plato meant that the highest form of beauty lies in geometry.
The word abstract means to withdraw something from something else.
In the following articles I will look at some of the abstract painters from the beginning of 1900, because these people started abstract art. It is interesting how they worked, thought and their background. I will look at Kandinsky,Klee and Malevich.
Braque and Picassostarted cubism in 1907-08. They broke down the forms and made 3D picture. That became the beginning of abstract art some years later.
The historical background.
From 1850 to 1920 there was a lot of changes in society in Europe. The industrial revolution changed many people’s lives both in a good and a bad way. Some got a better life, but lots of people lost their jobs because traditional jobs disappeared, and people were suddenly without the work they had had their whole life, but also new occupations appeared. It was a big change in society.
Trains and cars could take people everywhere in their own country and abroad. Telegraphs made it easier to have contact with family and friends living far away and people could see what was going on in society and around in Europe, and many had started to react on the difference between poor and rich people.
Revolution in Russia in the beginning of 1900 and the rise in Poland against the tsar’s army killed people and many had to flee to other countries. But it was only the beginning, it should be worse, because World War I started in 1914 and the Russian revolution began in 1917.
When the war started many people lost their homes, families and friends, hundreds of thousands were killed, everything was falling apart. Many people had to start their lives over again also in a new country.
The background for the abstract painters were the same as for everybody else, many of them moved to other countries, both within Europe and to America.
Art will always change together with the world. Picasso and Braque started cubism, which is about taking things apart and look at it from all sides and change it into something else, the same as people at that time had to do with their lives.
Cubism was in grey and black and very little colour.
When the abstract painters started , first with Kandinsky, it was with all the beautiful colours. There were no references to reality in the paintings, because the painters were painting feelings, spirituality and music.
Abstract Art was understandable for people, because they had experienced this totally change in their lives.
Malevich painted his black square in 1915, World War I had just started and it was a black whole. For Malevich it was cero, and also a new beginning.
Abstract art has continued up till now, and it is about feelings, colours and lines, and it take us to another world away from realities and everyday life. Perhaps that was what people needed when life was difficult and war was going on.
Exhibitions has shown that abstraction in its various forms has produced some of the most memorable influential and best loved art of any era.
https://www. tate org.uk
Duchting, Hajo. (2013) Kandinsky.2013 Taschen GmbH, Køln, Germany
The Eyal Ofer Galleries (2014) Malevich
Tate Modern, London