Nonrepresentational or nonobjective art is not an invention of the twentieth century. A number of cultures, like the Islamic and Jewish, have developed over the centuries a high standard of decorative or non-figurative art forms. Today, abstract art is generally understood to be the form of art that does not depict objects in the natural world, but instead uses shapes and colors in a nonrepresentational or subjective way.
According to art experts, in its purest form in Western art, an abstract art is one without a recognizable subject, one which does not relate to something external. This type of ornamental art, without figurative representation occurs today in many cultures. As the modern abstract movement in sculpture and paining emerged in Europe and North America between 1910 and 1920, two approaches have been generally accepted to produce different abstract styles: images that have been “abstracted” from nature to the point where they no longer reflect a conventional reality, and nonobjective, or “pure” art forms, which do not share any reference to reality. A further distinction tends to be made between abstract art which is geometric, such as the work of Piet Mondrian, and abstract art that is more fluid, such as in the works of Wassily Kandinsky. It was Kandinsky who once said that “of all arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and of colors, and that you are a true poet; this last is essential.”
Abstract art began in the avant-garde movements of the late 19th century -Impressionism, neo-Impressionism, and post-Impressionism. These painting styles reduced the importance of the original subject matter and began to emphasize the creative process of painting itself. As artists in Europe at the early twentieth century “broke free” from the conventional representational rules art forms had to follow, figurative abstractions, or simplifications of reality, where detail is eliminated from recognizable objects leaving only the essence or some degree of recognizable form, became popular increasing the variations of art forms and view points. With different abstract styles, like Synchronism and Orphism, abstract art emphasized on color over form, on feelings over logic. The action painting of an American Abstract Expressionist, Jackson Pollock, who dripped, dropped, smeared, spattered, or thrown paint on the canvas, is a good example of such a tremendous change in art focus and technique.
After the introduction of technology and the mass utilization of software programs that assisted people “play around” with their own photographs, paintings or other art forms, abstract art has gained more popularity than ever before. But although being able to draw well is not an issue anymore, as Kandinsky pointed out, being a “true” poet is what still separates the amateur attempts to create abstract art from the artifacts of a true talent.