What is Abstract Art?

Making absolute statements about anything in the realm of art can be dangerous business, ¬†fortunately though, in the case of abstract art, it’s a pretty simple distinction. Art can be divided into two categories, representational art and abstract. It’s easier to define abstract art in terms of what it’s not, so let’s start with representational art.

Representational art is art that depicts something concrete, be it something in the real world or something entirely from the imagination of the artist. Representational art can be described with nouns, for example “a painting of a baby,” “a black hole with skulls flowing into it” etc.

By Rembrant - a fine example of representational art.

By Rembrant – a fine example of representational art.

Abstract art, on the other hand, does not attempt to portray an object. Abstract art consists of colors, shape and form and texture. It can be as simple as a purely white canvas or complex with intricate shapes and patterns.


An abstract piece by Jenny Vorwaller

All art (here with categorical statements again!) evokes emotion. Abstract art is no different. We appreciate it for different reasons, sometimes not as easy to describe as those associated with representational art, but that is part of the mystery that makes it so appealing. Why does a particular combination of color and shape evoke certain memories and feelings? What is it that is so beautiful about a simple arrangement of squares? These are the types of questions that abstract art evokes and are part of what makes it so appealing to display and view.