Abstract art: breaking the rules

Abstract art: breaking the rules
Isabel del Rio

Abstract art: breaking the rules

From the beginning of the 20th century, a wave of rebellion started in art. Impressionists, Post-impressionists, Fauvists, Cubists… everybody wanted to break the rules taht Classical art had followed from the Renaissance. Impressionists changed the light and the topics of their works; Fauvists used subjective colors; Cubists broke the perspective in their paintings and the points of view in their pictures and also in their sculptures… Did all of these movements have something in common? Yes, because all of them developed the idea that color, line, form, and texture could be the main subject of the painting.

Abstract art by Piet Mondrian

Abstract art by Piet Mondrian

Wassily Kandinsky (Moscow, 1866- Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1944) went far away. In 1909 he founded with other artist in Munich “The Neue Künstlervereinigung” (New Artists Association) and he started to develop his ideas of a new form of art in which content would be disassociated from the object, and colors and forms would be used freely, following the artists’ inner urge. His first abstract painting was made two years later: “Komposition V” but, surprisingly, some of his colleges disliked that new Abstraction and they didn’t admit Kandinsky in their next exhibitions.

As a sign of protest, Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc found the artists’ group “Der Blaue Reiter” (The Blue Rider), organizing the group’s first exhibition in the Munich gallery Thannhauser. In a short period of time important texts were published, by means of which Wassily Kandinsky formulates his new art. Then, Abstract art had been born and it will be a great movement until today.

Abstract art by Jackson Pollock

Abstract art by Jackson Pollock

Wassily Kandinsky wrote “Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.”… A poet, and a musician, Kandinsky saw the colors as fluid spontanous simplifications of reality, where details were eliminated from recognizable objects leaving only the essence or some degree of recognizable form. For example, if you are painting a Still Life including a bottle and an apple, you can simplify: then, the bottle would be a vertical line and the apple a round point. Of course, he also tried to paint emotions, feelings and musical sensations through his paintings. This is the way following for other Abstract artists as Jackson Pollock. In fact, Pollock was a successor of Abstract Expressionism, which emerged in the 1940’s, and applied the principles of Expressionism to abstract painting. His “Action Painting” created works in which paint was dripped, dropped, smeared, spattered, or thrown on the canvas, with really strong emotional results.

Other different way was following by Piet Mondrian and we call it Geometric abstraction, in vogue today with artists as Sabela Baña. Again, completely subjective, they focus on lines and geometric forms, with a difficult technique where you can admire a pure clean result. In fact, Piet Mondrian said: “All painting – the painting of the past as well as of the present – shows us that its essential plastic means we are only line and color.” This other quote is also very explicative of the objectives of Geometric abstraction: “In past times when one lived in contact with nature, abstraction was easy; it was done unconsciously. Now in our denaturalized age abstraction becomes an effort.”

In this video you can see Kandinsky drawing:

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Isabel del Rio

Managing Editor at Yareah® Magazine. Author of ‘Ariza’ (2008) and ‘The Girls of Oil’ (2010)

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