-Triveni Goswami Vernal
Registered Special Educator (A64010)
Visual Art is any creative art that can be experienced through sight. It includes sculptures, paintings and even films. Abstract Art is non-representational art. Tate Modern defines Abstract Art as “art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect” (https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/abstract-art).
The origins of Abstract Art can be traced to the 19th century, but it was in the 1950’s that the Abstract Art movement began to gain ground, in the form of Abstract Expressionism. Abstract Expressionism is “often characterised by gestural brush-strokes or mark-making, and the impression of spontaneity” (https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/abstract-expressionism).
The primary theme of influence for the Abstract Art movement was the desire to tap the creative potential of the Unconscious. Hence, some of its main influences came from the Existential philosophy of Sartre, the exploration of the Unconscious by Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and the philosophy of Surrealism (https://magazine.artland.com/abstract-expressionism/#:~:text=The%20Abstract%20Expressionists%20were%20deeply,philosophers%20like%20Jean%2DPaul%20Sartre).
Some of the main characteristics of Abstract Art are as follows:
1) Non-representational art.
2) Use of colours, gestural marks, shapes and forms to create art.
FAMOUS ABSTRACT ARTISTS (IN THE WEST) AND A SAMPLE OF THEIR WORKS:
1. PIET MONDRIAN: He was a Dutch painter (1872-1944) who is also regarded as one of the most significant painters of that era. His art had elements of various shapes, mostly squares and rectangles and the use of bold colours.
“Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow”
“Broadway Boogie Woogie”, 1942-43
2. WASSILY KANDINSKY: Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was a Russian artist and art theorist. He is considered to be one of the forefathers of the Abstract Art movement in the West. Kandinsky’s art had elements of music and spiritual abstraction.
“Composition no. 8”, 1923,
3. PABLO PICASSO: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, ceramicist, print maker and a theatre designer. Picasso’s work exhibited different styles of art, across time—Blue Period (1901-04), Rose Period (1904-06), Cubism (1907-14), Neo-classicism (1917-25), Surrealism (1920-30), War Period (1935-45) and Post War Years (1946-62) (https://www.christies.com/features/Pablo-Picasso-a-style-guide-11919-3.aspx).
“Brooding Woman”(recto), “Three Children” (verso), 1904
4. MARK ROTHKO: Mark Rothko (1903-1970) is a Latvian born, American painter. He is best known for his colour field paintings, where he covered the canvas with large swathes of paints (often a gradient of a shade or contrasts) in rectangular shapes.
“Untitled, Black on Grey”,1969
5. JACKSON POLLOCK: Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) was an American painter who was considered to be one of the major figures in the Abstract Expressionism movement. He stylized the “drip painting” technique (paint was poured on a vertical surface) as well as the splatter technique (where paint was splattered on a horizontal painting surface).
FAMOUS INDIAN ABSTRACT ARTISTS AND A SAMPLE OF THEIR WORKS:
Abstract Expressionism began to gain ground in the post-Independence period in India and began to flourish in the 1960s and 1970s, especially in the Cubist and Semi-Cubist styles. (https://indianartideas.in/blog/abstract-art/the-origins-of-abstract-art). Tate Modern defines Cubism as “a revolutionary new approach to representing reality invented in around 1907–08 by artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. They brought different views of subjects (usually objects or figures) together in the same picture, resulting in paintings that appear fragmented and abstracted” (https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/c/cubism).
1. V.S. GAITONDE: Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde (1924-2001) was born in Nagpur. His painting style was Abstract Expressionism. He is regarded as one of India’s foremost abstract artists.
2. S.H. RAZA: Syed Haider Raza (1922-2016) was born in Madhya Pradesh and he lived in France from 1950 till his death. His art styles comprised of Abstract Expressionism and later, Geometric Abstraction.
3. AKBAR PADAMSEE: Akbar Padamsee (1928-2020) was born in Mumbai. He is considered to be a pioneer of Modern Indian painting.
4. M.F. HUSAIN: Maqbool Fida Husain (1915-2011) was born in Maharashtra. His painting style was influenced by Cubism.
Thus, this was a brief introduction to famous Abstract Artists and their artworks from around the world and more specifically, India. To continue with our art education, we can introduce our children to various art forms through animated videos that are easily available online, art books and downloadable resources, such as worksheets.
Here are some worksheets on famous artists and their art styles that the children can explore:
Author Triveni Goswami Vernal
Triveni Goswami Vernal is an Autism advocate, registered Special Educator (CRR A64010) and an Independent Researcher. Her areas of interest include Autism, Disability Rights, Gender, Art and Northeast studies. She is a mum to an 11 year old on the Autism Spectrum.
The author is Certified in Art & Ideas: Teaching with Themes, The Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Kabir Vernal