The Italian Renaissance was a time when artists started using naturalistic techniques in their artwork. They started creating realistic paintings that looked like actual objects. One of the greatest art masterpieces created during this time is Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa; this is an example of how artists moved from using primary to more complex colors in their artwork. They would then use naturalistic techniques to make their paintings look realistic. With the beginning of the XIX century a progressive artistic movement, pioneered by Wassily Kandinsky, started using a similar and opposed conceptual approaches to renaissance painters to move away from the depiction of reality and the use of realistic colours in painting.
Early abstract art used primary colors to depict ideas; for example, primary colors refer to red, blue and yellow. Later on, artists used more complicated primary colors to create paintings that look like reality. Artificial colors are also used in abstract art; examples of these colors include gold, silver and platinum. This is because the color of these metals is much richer than the others we use in making our food, clothing and home decor. The Dutch painter Piet Mondrian was a ground-breaking precursor of abstract art, that used primary colours and basic geometrical shapes to express new conceptual directions for painting.
Many people find abstract art fascinating. Essentially, abstract art refers to art that uses natural and artificial colors to depict ideas. Artists who create abstract art include Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman and Yves Tanguy. Most of the works from Abstract expressionism are on display in New York City. Abstract art encompasses a wide range of styles, such as minimalism and realism.
Relief-disques, is an outstanding example of Robert Delaunay’s iconic pictorial language which focuses on the simultaneous contrasts of color to circular forms. Delaunay and his wife, Sonia, made their mark on 20th century Paris as pioneers of Orphism, a movement grounded in the principles of Cubism and dedicated to exploring the relationship between light and color. Orphism sought to encourage a new physical experience transporting the viewer to a higher level of consciousness.
Artists also took this step toward realism in the 20th century with minimalistic pieces- such as Pollock’s drip paintings or Newman’s grisaille sculptures. For these pieces, both traditional and non-traditional techniques were used to create art that looks like a pure form or idea. For example, some traditional techniques used in making a piece of art include drawing lines with a pencil, adding color with a paintbrush and mounting a piece on a frame or object. An artist will then decide how the final work will look before actually creating it.
Abstract art is unique compared to other forms of art because it doesn’t follow traditional or non-traditional techniques to depict an idea- but rather depicts an idea itself. Instead of depicting something real, abstract artists depict something metaphorical or abstract through the use of primary and artificial colors, realistic techniques, minimalism and non-traditional techniques.
Just after the end of WW2 Victor Vasarely started establishing a new artistic movement inspired by his influences stemming from the Abstract Expressionism and the Bauhaus style. The vibrant artistic environment in Paris at the time was the perfect background for the development of new creative outbursts. The main idea was the generation of a fluctuating and dynamic effect on a painting through the juxstaposition of contrasting colours and geometrical patterns.
Considered one of the leaders of the op art movement Victor Vasarely started experimenting in the 1930s with perspectives, textural effects, shadows and light to render optical illusions. Supernovae is a typical example of Optical Art, realised just using black and white and geometrical shapes to obtain the illusion of a tridimensional effect on the canvas.
Son of Victor Vasarely, Jean-Pierre Yvaral followed in the footsteps of his father and continued experimenting with paintings showcasing optical effects. With Ambiguous Structure n. 92 he achieved extraordinary optical 3D effect using contrasting colours and geometrical shapes with red and purple tones
For many years Bridget Riley painted just using black and white, while in later years of her career she started using colours and this painting exhibited at Tate Modern, Nataraja, is a marvellous rendition of the concepts of opart in combination with a myriad of colours, inspired by Indian traditional art.
Essential online bibliographic references:
- Abstract Art on Tate website
- Abstract Art on Wikipedia
- Entry on Abstract Art on Encyclopaedia Britannica
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