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February 2015

The following paragraph from Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction can help us get a feel for how abstract painting started and where.


The Czech artist František Kupka (1871–1957) is most frequently credited with creating the first abstract paintings in the history of modern art. His interest in representations of the cosmos and of music inspired him, beginning in about 1909, gradually to dissolve observed motifs into either vertical schemes or spirals. In about 1912, with paintings such as Amorpha: Fugue in Two Colors and Vertical Schemes, he arrived at an art devoid of recognizable elements. Kupka was loosely associated with orphism, a short-lived Parisian art movement that came to the fore in 1913 and united artists interested in pure color, the representation of light, and analogies between the visual arts and music. Its prominent member and spokesman, the French painter Robert Delaunay (1885–1941), in collaboration with his Russian artist wife, Sonia Delaunay-Terk (1885–1979), systematically pursued the study of color, especially the theory of simultaneous color contrast as advanced by the nineteenth-century chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul. Like Kupka, Robert Delaunay made his first purely abstract painting following a series of paintings that increasingly abstracted specific representational motifs, in his case the Eiffel Tower, the sun, and a window. Thus, like Kupka’s representations of music or the cosmos, the concentric circles with the most intense colors at the center in Delaunay’s Simultaneous Disk: Punch (1913) still represent, in a sense, the radiating beams of the sun. Nevertheless, the painting qualifies as the most radically abstract painting made up to that point.”

Reference: Painting, Avant-Garde. (2006). In J. Merriman & J. Winter (Eds.), Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction (Vol. 4, pp. 1951-1959). Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons. Retrieved from

Abstract art, therefore, is “nonrepresentational” in nature, in the sense that they do not necessarily represent any real object in the physical world. Examples of abstract concepts are geometric objects such as a circle. No instance of a drawn circle in the real world can be considered as an ideal/perfect, abstract circle.

Tessa Stewart, ArtDreams’ Office Manager and artist, describes abstract art as “a piece of artwork, defined by neither composition nor structure, led dominantly by the artist’s emotions and experiences, ranging in color concepts and complexity. Visually created with a goal to provoke analogies and emotion rather that be solely visual entertainment.”

In words of Johanna Pani, our Senior Graphic Designer, “Abstract art is an unconventional type of art that may take various forms. It is usually ‘outside of the box’, figuratively and visually. Abstract art doesn’t adhere to any guideline, rules or grids. It is often the expression of the artist’s feelings at the time of creation that render the piece impressionable to a wide variety of people meaning different things to each.”

You can see a photo collage of all of the abstract painting we currently have at ArtDreams. Some look a bit more abstract than the others according to the above-mentioned definitions.

Abstract Paintings at ArtDream Studios

It would be interesting to know what the fathers/mothers of abstract art used to think about it. The following passage tells a story worth hearing:

“Yet most of these pioneering abstract artists initially hesitated in making the step toward complete abstraction because they worried that they would produce arbitrary, meaningless forms or merely decorative patterns. In combative manifestos and other written texts, they sought ways to justify their choices: they drew analogies to music, the most abstract among the arts; claimed they were representing immaterial realms such as emotions, the spiritual, the cosmos, the absolute, or utopia; argued they were reducing the painterly medium to its essential, indispensable elements; said they were playing with viewers’ perceptual faculties; or asserted they were basing decisions purely on chance operations. Often, these justifications served to turn their abstract works into “trace representations,” destabilizing the very definition of abstraction.”

Reference: Ibid.

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