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Abstract Paintings

Abstraction developed through the early to mid-1900s. The Cubists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque pushed painting toward abstraction, but did not go all the way. Wassily Kandinsky was one important abstract painter whose paintings make the most sense when you listen to twelve-tone music. He was friends with Arnold Schoenberg and aimed to paint musically.


Abstract Styles

The Italian Futurists sought to make a complete break from the historic art styles, and to create a new art that celebrated modern, urban life, the machine age, and themes of dynamism and speed. Giacomo Balla's "Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash," 1912, is a playful example of their style.

Kasimir Malevich achieved pure abstraction with his Suprematist style. His pictures are completely flat and composed of simple geometric forms with solid color. The Suprematist works are intended to evoke a feeling in the viewer, completely unrelated to the world of things.

The Abstract Expressionists, however, are perhaps the most famous abstract artists. They completely broke with traditional paint application techniques. Jackson Pollock, for example, splashed paint onto a canvas laid on the floor, as in "Number 1 (Lavender Mist)," 1950.


Quick Facts

  • The International Program of the Museum of Modern Art exhibited works by the Abstract Expressionist painters around the world during the Cold War, promoting the ideal of free expression in a democratic nation
  • Popular Abstract Expressionist Barnett Newman painted large fields of color separated by bands called “zips,” as in "The Stations of the Cross," 1958-66
  • In May 2015, a painting by the abstract artist Pablo Picasso sold for a record $719,365,000 at Christie's in New York. The estimated selling price was $140 million

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Sellers Who Sell Abstract Paintings


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