Whether you’re an artist, an art appreciator or simply a dabbler, we’re all inspired by the old masters.
And when we think of old masters, we often think of the old classic renaissance and impressionists – Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Rembrandt.
However, when it comes to famous abstract art there is a plethora of brilliant artists to celebrate, both new and old, mainstream and underground.
Let’s get to know more about these wonderful artists now, as we show you how to get the look in your own home without the million dollar price tag.
1. Piet Mondrian – Tableau 1
Love minimalism? Love clean lines? A touch of Mondrian will nicely complement a contemporary interior design.
Dutch painter Mondrian, born in 1872, began formal art studies in 1872 at the Academy for Fine Art in Amsterdam after a career in primary teaching.
He is one of the founders of the Dutch modern movement De Stijl and used asymmetrical balance and a simplified pictorial vocabulary in his modern art and abstracts works.
Mondrian moved to Paris in 1918 where he lived for 20 years, enjoying the intellectual freedom the city inspired. It was in Paris he began painting his seminal grid-based works using primary colours, a style captured, below, in ‘Composition’.
Such a piece will lift an ‘on trend’ neutral grey space.
2. Hans Hofman – Combinale Wall I and II
Masculinity comes to the fore with ‘Combinale Wall I and II’.
Born in a similar era to Mondrian, Hofman was born in Germany and migrated to America in 1932. In his early career he was an accomplished scientist and mathematician, becoming an artist after his father’s death.
After decades of studying and teaching art, the 1940s saw the beginning of his love affair with Abstract Expressionism.
According to the Hans Hofmann website, his voluminous output for 20 years ‘developed into an artistic approach and theory he called “push and pull,” which he described as interdependent relationships between form, color, and space.’
‘Rectangle Rivival’, pictured below, pays homage to Hofmann making an exciting addition to a home or workplace office.
3. Wassily Kadinsky – Composition 8 and Circles In A Circle
It is possible to bring life and colour to an otherwise neutral decor.
Russian painter and art theorist Kadinsky is known for painting one of the first abstract works. Luckily for all of us he decided to stop his career in law and become a painter!
According to The Art Story Kadinsky believed that ‘total abstraction offered the possibility for profound, transcendental expression and that copying from nature only interfered with this process.’
He considered the world of art as real as the world of nature – just as concrete. Concrete art has been described by Theo van Doesburg as abstract art that is entirely free of any basis in observed reality and has no symbolic meaning, like the two Kadinsky-inspired pieces, below, for example.
Give a soft bedroom interior or living room an edge with something transcendental.
4. Paul Klee – Senecio
Speaking of transcendentalism …
Swiss born painter Klee was a transcendentalist, someone who believes in the inherent goodness of people and nature. He believed ‘the material world was only one among many realities open to human awareness (The Art Story) and his art reflected this philosophy.
His style was influenced by Expressionism, Surrealism and Cubism. ‘Senecio’ was a gorgeous work combining African culture with his sense of humour.
This piece ‘Mask Of Emotions’, below, is most certainly influenced by Klee’s work which uses expressive, powerful colour.
Give a reading room or hallway more pizzazz than you ever thought possible with a bright, colourful Klee-inspired piece.
5. Frank Stella – Lac Laronge III
Let’s get real for a moment.
Despite abstractionism being many steps away from realism, Stella proclaimed a fondness for ‘real art’. It’s how you define ‘real’ that is of immense interest.
Stella, who’s still alive today, was one of the pioneers of nonrepresentational painting which refers to art that does not represent reality. It values colour, shape and composition, but does not tell a story.
An American artist from New York, Stella is a living treasure – still working and inspiring many an artist to follow in his footsteps. This colourful piece ‘Triangle Rings’, below, is most certainly a tribute to Stella’s ‘Lac La Ronge III’.
Bring unashamedly bold colour into your home with something spectacularly unreal.
6. Clyfford Still – PH-920 (1974)
Do you have a passion for purple? Love the idea of experiencing with the colour in its most abstract form?
A leading figure in the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, American artist Still was a major artistic influence post World War II. He describes his abstracts as ‘life and death merging in fearful union’. Wow!
His namesake museum, the Clyfford Still Museum, holds 95% of his work – a wonderful space for emerging artists to discover their own creative impulse.
Love the purple hues in Still’s ‘PH-920 (1774)’? This work, below, will fill the void in your own home perfectly.
7. Jackson Pollock – Convergence
A journey into abstractionism would not be complete without a look-see at the super famous Pollock who revolutionised modern art, globally.
He said goodbye to traditional painting techniques to explore splatter and action pieces, inventing one of the most radical art styles in history.
The highest price a Pollock has been sold for is $140 million, the 4th most expensive painting ever sold.
A bit out of your price range? This print ‘Record Keepers’, below, is an abstract piece in the style of his most famous work ‘Convergence’.
8. Sarah Morris – Sambódromo da Marquês de Sapucaí
Female artists still battle to make it to the front of the male dominated world of abstractionism, but New York’s Morris is making herself internationally known in today’s world of contemporary art, producing a massive body of work focusing on place and politics.
Basically she’s the coolest thing on earth, so if you are obsessing over Morris works like ‘Sambódromo da Marquês de Sapucaí’ you can funk up your own room with the likes of ‘Geometry In Motion’, below.
9. Jasper Johns – Map (1961)
Like some meaning with your abstract expressionism?
Though definitely abstract in style, Johns’ paintings are well known for containing more meaning than other abstract works. However, the meaning is always fluid and the work, in itself, is often colourful enough to carry itself regardless of the meaning.
The vibrant colours in a masterpiece like ‘Map (1961)’ work so well together that the temptation for other painters to interpret this in their own way is too much. ‘Structured Mayhem’, below, is a result of acquiescing to that fierce temptation.
We’re super pleased, as a work inspired by Johns is a wonderful way to jazz up a living room.
10. Robert Delaunay – Simultaneous Windows (2nd Motif, 1st Part)
Channel classy colour with a twist into your living spaces.
Delaunay, born in 1885, started painting and exhibiting shortly after graduating from school. Quite incredible really. The wind beneath his wings was artist Sonia Terk, who he married in 1910. Together they rubbed shoulders with many a famous abstractionist.
Delaunay was influenced by Neo-impressionism and Pointillism. Much of his early work used squares of colour eventually progressing into more complex geometric forms, similar to Cubism.
He had a passion for colour theory, something students of his work would be well aware of. It’s wonderful to see works like ‘Aquamarine’, below, respect that passion for colour.
11. Mark Rothko – Untitled (Yellow, Red And Blue)
Rothko was an American artist of Russian Jewish descent who ‘created a new impassioned form of abstract painting’ that is ‘characteri[s]ed by rigorous attention to formal elements such as color, shape, balance, depth, composition, and scale’. (Natural Gallery Of Art).
He refused to align himself with a particular art movement, but he’s widely considered to be an abstract expressionist.
We fell so much in love with the warmth and rich colours used in ‘Untitled (Yellow, Red And Blue)’ that we just had to share this tribute abstract print ‘Seascape Abstract’.
From ocean blues to outback rusts, it’s an inspired, ‘all-Australian’ interpretation perfect for a contemporary living space from beach to country.