HomeArts:  The Controversy over Abstract Art

Art and the Abstract: Meaningful or Meaningless?

Abstract art is loved, hated, misunderstood, and criticized by people around the world. Although many of the people who hate and criticize it are people who have no real knowledge of art or art history, serious art critics and artists themselves often disagree over its meaning and value. Abstract art is essentially any work of art that is not a realistic or accurate depiction or representation of an actual subject or object. If you look at the art piece, you see nothing that is familiar to you, nothing that you can recognize or relate to. However, just because there is no discernable subject does not mean that the art piece has no value, meaning, or message.

The Beauty of Abstract Art

Abstract art is probably some of the most controversial art and has been that way throughout history. Some people love abstract art with a passion because they believe it is an incredibly honest representation of an artist’s creativity and inspiration and leaves the burden of interpretation completely up to the viewer. If a thousand people look at a piece of abstract art, there can be a thousand possible interpretations, and each one relates specifically to what each individual viewer needs and wants to finds depicted in the art.

Many critics of abstract art claim that it has no value because it requires no skill to produce. Some people, especially those without any formal art education, argue that a five year old could easily produce a piece of art that looks similar to the abstract art frequently hung in galleries worldwide. However, the reality is that although abstract art lacks a definable subject, it does not lack a cohesive unity and artistic vision. Abstract artists have to focus on color, the intermingling of disparate elements, textures, layering, movement, lines, and shape, among many other aspects in order to make a truly beautiful piece of abstract art. Next time you have the opportunity to analyze a piece of abstract, examine carefully what was required during the construction of the piece. You may find that you have a new appreciation of the abstract.

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