Abstract art encompasses a wide range of styles. The one common theme that they all have is that they do not actually represent any object or human or animal form accurately, but do so in a conceptual or abstract manner, hence the name. Any type of art that is not a true representation of whatever it is depicting can be classed as abstract, but the term is most commonly applied to oil paintings and other hanging art.
Cubism is perhaps the most widely recognised form of abstract art. In a cubist painting, or other work of art, the objects are represented in a geometrical solid form. The characteristics of a cubist abstract piece are typically that all items are depicted by a geometrical solid that derives from its actual form. The artist Paul Cezanne stated that, "Everything in nature takes its form from the sphere, the cone, and the cylinder." This is the basis on which cubism was formed. The era of true cubist abstract art was from 1908 to 1920. Pablo Picasso is probably the most renowned of all cubist abstract artists. He produced a self portrait using the cubist abstract technique, as well as other notable oil paintings.
Neoplasticism was another form of abstract art. The name is probably unfamiliar to most people, but the style is extremely recognisable. In a neoplastic abstract art piece, there are only vertical and horizontal lines and primary colours. Nothing else is used in a true neoplastic piece. The period of neoplasticity was relatively short, only occurring during the 1910’s, but its influence is often seen today. The Dutch painter, Piet Mondrain, was one of the main artistics who produced works of neoplastic abstract art.
The third and final one of the main abstract art styles is abstract expressionism. This is the most spontaneous of the abstract art styles. The artist truly used the outermost limits of self-expression to produce these paintings. Often, the greatest abstract expressionists suffered for their art. Jackson Pollock was the most prolific of these abstract expressionists and he was a truly tortured soul. His style of abstract expressionism was known as action painting. He did not use a brush to create his masterpieces, but wanted to emphasise the movement and texture of his work. To do this he often threw or poured paint at the canvass. In this way the movement of the paint was captured too. Pollock’s most prolific period of abstract expressionism was during the 1940’s.
Another form of abstract expressionism was colour field. This was highlighted by the use of rectangles and variety of colour. It is not as well known as the action painting, but one of its true exponents was Mark Rothko, in the 1940’s.
Since these original abstract artists, there have been many others who have attempted to create artwork in the abstract style. However, it is these early masters who truly captured the essence of the abstract movement. The beginning of the 20th century was a defining moment in the art world, but it has taken many years for the true genius of these abstract artists to be appreciated. Many of them were not given the credit that they deserved for their masterpieces.