• Artist Inspiration: What Is Abstract Art? From Pollock to Kandinsky to Mondrian to Rothko

The theories behind abstract art

There are many theoretical ideas behind abstract art. Art for art’s sake – that art should be purely about the creation of beautiful effects, is one of the main theories. That art can or should be like music is another theory – in that just as music is patterns of sound, art’s effects should be created by pure patterns of form, colour and line. The idea, derived from the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, that the highest form of beauty lies not in the forms of the real world but in geometry, is also used in discussion of abstract art as is the idea that abstract art, to the extent that it does not represent the material world, can be seen to represent the spiritual.

In general abstract art is often seen as carrying a moral dimension, in that it can be seen to stand for virtues such as order, purity, simplicity and spirituality.

How is abstract art defined in the English dictionary?

Abstract (adjective)

  • Existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.
  • Relating to or denoting art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but rather seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, colours, and textures.

Or… how about this definition?:


What do you feel abstract art offers your collectors?

My answer in one word is … freedom

Abstract art offers your imagination to interpret what you see. I have always said that abstract art is like a psychiatrists ink blot question:

What do you see in this ink blot?

The answer is not defined and it personalises each artwork to each collector or viewer.

What of your work fits into the definition of ‘abstract art’?

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Where can we buy your abstract artworks?

I am represented by Degree Art Gallery, London and have my artworks for sale online:


My personal top 10 abstract artists past and present?

Where do you start with such a question? I have focused on a selection who have always inspired and fascinated me. The picture below was taken of one group of the abstract expressionists, notably only featuring one woman:

Here are my personal top 10 artist, picks spanning 1872 to present day:

1) Vasily Kandinsky (1866–1944):

Though Vasily Kandinsky pursued figurative art before 1913, he was among the first (if not the questionable first) painters to push into pure abstraction—or as he put it, “art independent of one’s observations of the external world.”

2) Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935):

Following just a few years after Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich renounced representational painting in 1915, and created the first of his Supremacist compositions (so named for their focus on “the supremacy of pure feeling or perception in the pictorial arts”).

3) Jackson Pollock (1912–1956):

The face of Abstract Expressionism and America’s first major postwar artist (and still one of its greatest), Pollock burst onto the scene in the late 1940s and early 1950s with his signature drip paintings. They were created in an incandescent burst of creativity over a three years period between 1947 and 1950 at his Springs, New York studio in the Hamptons.

4) Pablo Picasso (1881-1973):

Pablo Picasso is probably the most important figure of 20th century, in terms of art, and art movements that occurred over this period. Before the age of 50, the Spanish born artist had become the most well known name in modern art, with the most distinct style and eye for artistic creation.

5) Piet Mondrian (1872–1944):

Along with Picasso, Mondrian is synonymous with Modern Art, and the mere mention of his name immediately conjures one of his iconic geometric compositions of primary-colored squares contained by bold, black perpendicular lines.

6) Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer (1945) is an internationally acclaimed German painter, photographer, sculptor and installation artist:

7) Willem de Kooning:

Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) was a Dutch American contemporary master and the leading artist of abstract expressionism, also known as action painting. He was the prominent member of the group of artists known as the New York School.

8) Mark Rothko (1903 – 1970):

Mark Rothko, born Markus Yakovlevich Rotkovich, was an American painter of Russian Jewish descent. Although Rothko himself refused to adhere to any art movement, he is generally identified as an abstract expressionist.

9)  J.M.W. Turner (1775 – 1851):

I think this could be seen to be an unusual choice. While Wassily Kandinsky is often regarded as the pioneer of European abstract art – Kandinsky claimed, erroneously as it turns out, that he produced the first abstract painting in 1911: ‘back then not one single painter was painting in an abstract style’ – it can be argued that the roots of this movement are to be found deeper still (and if recent news is to be believed, the Neanderthals where ahead of the game in their cutting of abstract lines into stone). If we look at some of the later works of J.M.W. Turner for example, it is no great leap to suggest that his landscapes are in fact abstract; what might be traditionally recognisable forms in the hands of another painter are consumed by sublime elements, overwhelming evocations of light and scale which Turner used to such great effect. It makes for a compelling, if not definitive argument.

10) Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954):

Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter.

So, back to you…

what are your top 10 Abstract artists of all time?


  1. http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/a/abstract-art
  2. Wikipedia

All artworks & designs displayed are © Copyright by artist Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip.

Quick Link @ http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

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