Abstract Art

— Unshackled from the figure

For centuries artists created artwork to represent figurative images. Landscapes and people, gods and machines. Art was a tool to communicate reality. But with the proliferation of the camera, a slow shift began in art. The world could be documented without paint or stone, and so at the dawn of the 20th century, artists began to abstract their images, fragmenting reality, and eventually — removing it completely.

Reed Enger, "Abstract Art, Unshackled from the figure," in Obelisk Art History, Published October 08, 2015; last modified January 08, 2021,

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Mark Rothko, 1952

1944-N No. 2

Clyfford Still, 1944


Clyfford Still, 1948

1951-T No. 3


A Lady and a Road Map

Bernice Bing, 1963

Abstract Composition

Théo Kerg, 1933

Abstract Composition

Mainie Jellett, 1935

Abstract Painting

Ad Reinhardt, 1966

Abstract Painting no. 4

Ad Reinhardt, 1961

Abstract Sculpture 3

Katarzyna Kobro, 1924

Abstract Speed + Sound

Giacomo Balla, 1913-1914


Willem de Kooning, 1949-1950

Abstraction No. 4

Beauford Delaney, c. 1965

After Xhorkum

Arshile Gorky, 1940-1942


Arshile Gorky, 1947


Norman Lewis, 1960

Alalgura, My Country in Bloom

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, 1992

Alhalkere, My Country

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, 1994

Arabesque Brush

Albert Gleizes, 1952


Arshile Gorky, 1939


Emily Kame Kngwarreye, 1995

At the Solferino-Paris bridge

Théo Kerg, 1951

Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)

Jackson Pollock, 1950


Emily Kame Kngwarreye, 1995

Balanced Forms

Araceli Gilbert, 1952


Helen Frankenthaler, 1979

Berlin Series No. 1

Marsden Hartley, 1913

Berlin Series No. 3

Marsden Hartley, 1913

Berlin Series No. 47

Marsden Hartley, 1914-1915

Berlin Series No. 48

Marsden Hartley, 1913

Berlin Series No. 49

Marsden Hartley, 1914-1915

Berlin Series No. 50

Marsden Hartley, 1914-1915

Bird Talk

Lee Krasner, 1955


Lee Krasner, 1956

Black and White II

Charles Alston, c. 1960

Black and White, Suprematist Composition

Kazimir Malevich, 1915

Black Square

Kazimir Malevich, 1915

Black Square and Red Square

Kazimir Malevich, 1915

Black Trapezium and Red Square

Kazimir Malevich, 1915

Blue Green Yellow Orange Red

Ellsworth Kelly, 1966


Joan Mitchell, 1969

Body Painting Series

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, 1996

Breakthrough I

Robert Rauschenberg, 1964

Breeze Rustling Through Fall Flowers

Alma Thomas, 1968

Broadway Boogie Woogie

Piet Mondrian, 1942-1943

Budgerigar Dreaming

Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, 1972


Agnes Martin, 1959


Elaine de Kooning, 1959

Burney Falls

Bernice Bing, 1980

Bushfire Dreaming

Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, 1972
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