Loading Spinner

Abstract Drawings

Abstract drawing developed as a fully formed discipline with the rise of modern art and continues to the present day. Its development can be largely credited to the invention of cameras. The camera's introduction around the turn of the 19th century enabled artists to perfectly replicate images of daily life, consequently causing a shift in traditional art forms away from realism. Artists became increasingly more interested in transforming the world around them through paints, pastels, pencil, and other traditional media rather than reproducing it with scientific exactitude.

Impressionism and abstract drawing arose along with the popularization of the camera. Artists including Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Paul Cezanne sought to capture the feeling and chromatic subtleties of a particular moment, which the camera struggles with.

While the artworks of artists from this time period tend toward the figurative, they also have elements of abstraction as their drawings turned from realistic to expressive. This tradition remains very much alive today as artists continue to explore new ways to present non-figurative imagery through drawing.


Quick Facts

  • The trend of abstract drawing, and more famously painting, fully matured with the rise of modern art in the mid-20th century. Artists including Barnett Newman and Jackson Pollock began to produce works that appeared completely devoid of reference to the outside world
  • The esteemed artist Robert Longo recently produced a body of work replicating the paintings of Abstract Expressionist masters like Ad Reinhardt and Jackson Pollock using charcoal on paper
  • The Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky was one of the first artists to create drawings of a purely abstract nature in the early 20th century

Recommended Items at Auction

See all items

Jacob El Hanani "Circle Line & Square" Ink, 1998
May 05, 12:00 PM EDT
Jacob El Hanani "Circle Line & Square" Ink, 1998
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $4,000- $6,000
$1,6007 Bids
WOLF KAHN (GERMAN-AMERICAN 1927-2020)
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
WOLF KAHN (GERMAN-AMERICAN 1927-2020)
by Shapiro Auctions LLC
Est: $8,000- $12,000
$8,5005 Bids
WOLF KAHN (GERMAN-AMERICAN 1927-2020)
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
WOLF KAHN (GERMAN-AMERICAN 1927-2020)
by Shapiro Auctions LLC
Est: $12,000- $15,000
$8,5004 Bids
DAVID HAMMONS (°1943)
Apr 25, 10:00 AM CEST
DAVID HAMMONS (°1943)
by Bernaerts Auctioneers
Est: €1,000- €1,500
€1,3003 Bids
WOLF KAHN (GERMAN-AMERICAN 1927-2020)
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
WOLF KAHN (GERMAN-AMERICAN 1927-2020)
by Shapiro Auctions LLC
Est: $12,000- $15,000
$8,0003 Bids
ARSHILLE GORKY (ATTR) ARMENIAN/AMERICAN 1904-1948
Apr 27, 12:00 PM EDT
ARSHILLE GORKY (ATTR) ARMENIAN/AMERICAN 1904-1948
by Trinity International Auctions & Appraisals, LLC
Est: $3,500- $5,000
$2,5002 Bids
Ben Shahn, Untitled
Apr 24, 10:00 AM PDT
Ben Shahn, Untitled
by Los Angeles Modern Auctions
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,4002 Bids
GILBERT SWIMBERGHE (1927-2015)
Apr 25, 10:00 AM CEST
GILBERT SWIMBERGHE (1927-2015)
by Bernaerts Auctioneers
Est: €100- €200
€102 Bids
Michael Kidner (1917-2009) Entangled Roots of Hyacinth Bulbs No. 1 & Untitled
Apr 24, 1:00 PM BST
Michael Kidner (1917-2009) Entangled Roots of Hyacinth Bulbs No. 1 & Untitled
by Forum Auctions - UK
Est: £300- £500
£1501 Bid
Luis Romero (Mexican, b. 1965) "Infinite Layers"
Apr 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Luis Romero (Mexican, b. 1965) "Infinite Layers"
by Material Culture
Est: $500- $800
$2501 Bid
Roger Lindsey Walker (American, 1909-1996) 2 Works
Apr 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Roger Lindsey Walker (American, 1909-1996) 2 Works
by Material Culture
Est: $300- $600
$1501 Bid
Roger Lindsey Walker (1909-1996) Ink on paper
Apr 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Roger Lindsey Walker (1909-1996) Ink on paper
by Material Culture
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
HONEGGER-LAVATER, WARJA: "Pictogramm 2, die Barrikade".
May 02, 9:00 AM CEST
HONEGGER-LAVATER, WARJA: "Pictogramm 2, die Barrikade".
by Dobiaschofsky Auktionen AG
Est: CHF100- CHF200
CHF1001 Bid
JEAN JACQUES SEMPÉ (1932-2022)
Apr 25, 10:00 AM CEST
JEAN JACQUES SEMPÉ (1932-2022)
by Bernaerts Auctioneers
Est: €1,500- €2,000
€1,1001 Bid
ZORIO Gilberto, Alambicco, 2000, cobalt chloride, Stromboli sand, black ink, charcoal on cardboard, cm 69,5x100
May 06, 4:00 PM CEST
ZORIO Gilberto, Alambicco, 2000, cobalt chloride, Stromboli sand, black ink, charcoal on cardboard, cm 69,5x100
by Ambrosiana Casa D'Aste
Est: €6,000- €8,000
€4,0001 Bid
MODEST HUYS (1874-1932)
Apr 25, 10:00 AM CEST
MODEST HUYS (1874-1932)
by Bernaerts Auctioneers
Est: €300- €400
€1801 Bid
Ray Johnson, Untitled (three works)
May 03, 11:00 AM CDT
Ray Johnson, Untitled (three works)
by Wright
Est: $700- $900
$501 Bid
Filliou, Robert. La Joconde est dans
May 11, 12:00 PM CEST
Filliou, Robert. La Joconde est dans
by Nosbüsch & Stucke GmbH
Est: €350- €500
€3301 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Abstract Drawings


Venduehuis der Notarissen

Venduehuis der Notarissen

Bernaerts Auctioneers

Bernaerts Auctioneers

Wright

Wright

AaG Auktionshaus am Grunewald

AaG Auktionshaus am Grunewald