Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket by James McNeill Whistler
Before the 19th century, you would be hard pressed to find Abstract art in western culture. Before this time, western art was often considered best when the work most accurately represented the world we see around us. Then something shifted. The world was progressing faster than it ever had before, and major advancements were being made in the realms of science, technology and philosophy. Artists saw this change, and with it came a transformation in their art
In the midst of this upheaval of transformation and change, the Abstract artistic movement was born.
Helping fuel the fire was a developing economy. No longer were artists reliant on religious and private patrons to finance their artistic endeavors. They were able to support themselves through selling their art to the general public. This was a first for artists, and it allowed them to break away from tradition and experiment with revolutionary new concepts.
Le Premier Disque by Robert Delaunay
The abstract movement was less concerned with depicting images of religious or historical events that were the mainstay of the past. In fact, artists were less inclined to depict images of objects at all. Artists were shifting their emphasis towards visual stimulation, emotional representation, and pure experimentation.
As the Abstract movement progressed, a continuum was discovered. At one end of the spectrum were styles such as Impressionism where the abstractions were vague representations of reality. These styles were light on the abstraction scale, but were still revolutionary. Further along one might find cubism, which could be geometric representations of life or complete geometric abstraction. And at the furthest end was complete abstraction, which did not attempt to represent anything from our visual world.
Essentially, Abstraction had become prominent in art, and it was both freeing for artists as well as for lovers of the arts.
Black Square by Kazimir Malevich
Images sourced from Wikimedia Commons