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A common reaction to abstract art is that it could have been produced by a child. In fact, it's much more complex than that, beginning in ancient times and spanning several artistic movements before reaching a completely non-representational peak. 

Abstract art uses non-figurative of language, color, line, and shape to create a composition free from references that exist in reality. Elements of abstraction can be found in early forms of art from many different cultures. These often appear as simple linear or geometric patterns on pottery, textiles, or paintings and often served a decorative, if not symbolic, purpose. This Korean Neolithic Pot is one of many surviving examples of ancient items decorated with abstract elements. 

In the 19th century, religious patronage of the arts had waned significantly, and private patronage from the public rose, leading to more artistic independence for artists and a divergence from fore stringently realistic artist movements. Artistic movements including Romanticism, Impressionism, and Expressionism, contributed to the rise of Abstraction; each including their own elements of abstraction. 

Abstract art emerged in the 19th century as a response to the scientific, technological, and philosophical changes. Abstract art became its own movement in the few years preceding WWI with artists such as Wassily Kandinsky (considered the father of abstract art), Robert Delaunay, and Kazimir Malevitch who began to embrace total abstraction in their work. 

Fast forward to today, and abstract art is still thriving as a style embraced by contemporary artists. Abstract art played an important role in many artistic movements, including Cubism, Futurism, Modernism, and Contemporary art

Abstract art has many definitions; it can be called non-objective art, non-figurative art, or non-representational art, but they all mean about the same thing; you won’t recognize what you are seeing in abstract art as something that exists in the world.  Abstraction can be applied slightly, partially, or completely depending on the goals of the artist. Complete abstraction and figurative art are usually completely separate from each other, while abstract art can include some elements of imagery. 

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Who are the most sought after abstract artists?

Abstract artists often exist within more specific sub-movements that include total and partial abstraction. The most expensive abstract painting ever sold was painted by Willem de Kooning. The painting, called Interchange, sold for $300 million in 2015. De Kooning is considered a 20th century expressionist artist. 


Other highly sought after artists who created abstract paintings include: Mark Rothko (20th century Abstract Expressionist), Jackson Pollock (20th century Abstract Expressionist), Jasper Johns (20th century-present abstract expressionism, Neo-Dada, and pop artist) and Gerhard Ritcher, a contemporary painter who set a record auction price for a painting sold by a living artist, with his Abstraktes Bild (809-4) (1994) which went for $34 million in 2012. He broke this record twice in 2013 and 2015. Each of these artists, at some point in their career, experimented with pure or partial abstractions in their painting practice.

What makes abstract paintings valuable?

Part of what makes abstract art so expensive and intrinsically valuable is that the subject matter does not replicate reality. Rather, abstract art is an emotive manifestation of the artist’s state of mind, thus they are highly individualized and unique works. Because of the very definition of the artistic movement, abstraction is a very important step in the evolution of art and human expression. 

It stands to reason that the work by the artists who pioneered the movement is going to be valuable. Abstract art, though it often encounters beauty, places the most emphasis on the meaning behind the work, the act of creating the work (which was often atypical), and the innovative nature of the work.

Where can I buy an abstract painting?

The style of abstract painting is still popular among artists and collectors alike. Abstract works by well-known artists are generally sold by major auction houses and galleries (in the case of living artists). There are abstract paintings being continually made by lesser-known artists that are often available for sale online or through art galleries that represent emerging artists.

How can you tell if an abstract painting is authentic?

While it’s always best to purchase from a reputable source like a well-respected art dealer or auction house, it is also important to choose a painting with as complete a provenance as possible. 

Additionally you can easily spot a forged painting by paying close attention to the painting itself. Hold the painting up to the light, you should be able to see some light coming through. The back of the painting should not be completely opaque as this would indicate that the painting is more likely a print on canvas. Check the surface of the painting; most abstract works were thickly layered, which should be evident from the surface of the painting. If you examine the painting in raking light, you should be able to perceive the layers of the painting even if they are thinly applied.

If you need a professional opinion, contact Mearto about authentication research services. 

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