How to understand and appreciate abstract art

By Brown Articles Published 07/2/2009 | Arts and Culture

How many times, when looking at abstract art have you puzzled over a phrase such as, look at this masterpiece! when in reality you cannot make head or tail of the picture? Do not worry, for in reality you have to come to terms with the significance of abstract art to be able to appreciate it.

The actual term is Abstract Expressionism and it relates to all those paintings that represent unrecognisable objects. What we easily recognize in general is known as a Representational painting, that is to say, those paintings that portray a determined and recognizable object. These are easier to understand for they have a more familiar impact on us; we are able to recognize the artists ability and can appreciate, colour, aesthetics as well as proportions.

But what happens when we are faced with a painting that is completely out of proportion and unrecognisable? This is when things get more complicated! Believe it or not, you can learn to enjoy such art, it is just a matter of understanding where to look. Abstract art gradually evolved form representational art throughout the decades. Some paintings changed discretely from classical representations, which are clearly identifiable, to less realistic ones, which, although still recognizable started to portray more abstract forms.

When looking at a classic painting, you immediately have a positive or negative feeling for the picture, while with an abstract painting, what you should be looking for is the sensation the colors, shapes, lines and patterns give you, not whether your recognize the object or subject in the painting. Believe it or not if you study a painting, which may not look at all realistic, it can become so if you take a closer look, by doing so you can get an idea or feeling of what the artist intends to represent.

There are in fact two types of abstract painting; one is abstracted painting, which refers to those paintings that represent objects taken from nature, while the other is pure abstract representation, which is far more obtuse, in which you will not find any real forms you may recognize. When looking at such paintings, you cannot help wondering, What is that supposed to mean? To fully appreciate this form of art you must take the painting and look at from a different point of view, that of the artists environment, his culture and his state of mind. After all art is timeless and limitless, that is also the joyful and aesthetic side of art; it is personal and can be interpreted by each one of us, according to our own state of mind and viewpoint.

The secret of a true appreciation of abstract art is to study the artist before hand; this will give you a wider perspective of that painting as a whole. If you do this, you will be amazed at what a painting can reveal, and it will help you appreciate and catch the essence of the piece of art.

It would be a shame to limit our outlook to traditional representational art, when art is limitless and represents freedom of expression, both for famous artists as well as amateurs.