Welcome, dear readers, to your journey of discovering the enigmatic realm of abstract art. Are you tired of feeling lost and confused when staring at seemingly random splatters of colors on a canvas? Fear not! This guide is here to equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to decode the meanings and techniques behind abstract art.

As you dive deeper into the world of abstract art, you’ll develop a new perspective and appreciation for the genre. You’ll learn to analyze and interpret abstract artworks, and understand the complexities of abstract art movements and techniques. You’ll even be able to navigate art galleries and exhibitions like a pro, and cultivate your very own abstract art collection.

Stick with us, and you’ll never have to scratch your head at abstract art again. Let’s get started on learning how to look and understand abstract art!

Exploring the World of Abstract Art

Are you ready to dive into the mesmerizing world of abstract art? With its unique interpretations, hidden meanings, and avant-garde techniques, abstract art can be both intriguing and intimidating. But fear not, dear reader! With this guide, we will explore the depths of abstract art and discover its beauty together.

First, let’s talk about the meanings behind abstract art. Unlike traditional art that represents recognizable objects and scenes, abstract art relies on shapes, colors, and forms to express emotion and convey messages. It’s like a visual language that requires interpretation.

Take, for example, this artwork by Wassily Kandinsky:


In this piece, Kandinsky uses geometric shapes and vivid colors to express the idea of chaos and order. The swirling shapes and vibrant hues create a sense of movement and energy, while the sharp lines and angles convey structure and organization. By understanding these visual elements, we can decode the meaning and appreciate the artwork on a deeper level.

Next, let’s explore the techniques used in creating abstract art. Abstract artists often experiment with unconventional methods and materials to push the boundaries of art. From Jackson Pollock’s drip painting technique to Mark Rothko’s use of color fields, abstract art is full of surprises.

For instance, in this artwork by Joan Mitchell, she utilizes gestural brushwork to create a dynamic and expressive composition:


The loose and fluid brushstrokes create a sense of movement and spontaneity, while the blend of colors evokes a dreamy and melancholic atmosphere. By analyzing the techniques used, we can appreciate the skill and creativity that goes into making abstract art.

Finally, let’s examine the elements that make up abstract art. Although abstract art may seem chaotic and random at first glance, it actually follows a set of principles and guidelines that contribute to its visual impact.

For example, in this artwork by Piet Mondrian, he utilizes simple lines and colors to create a sense of balance and harmony:


The use of primary colors and geometric shapes creates a sense of order and structure, while the placement of the lines and shapes creates a sense of movement and rhythm. By understanding these elements, we can appreciate the artwork’s composition and aesthetic appeal.

By exploring the meanings, techniques, and elements of abstract art, we can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for this unique art form. So let’s continue our journey and unlock the mysteries of abstract art!

Decoding Abstract Art Techniques

Abstract art is all about techniques and methods, and this section will help you get a grasp on some of the most popular ones.

Gestural Brushwork

Gestural brushwork is a technique that involves applying paint with a quick, sweeping motion, often using an oversized brush. It can create bold, expressive strokes that convey movement and energy, as seen in the works of Jackson Pollock.

art technique

“Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” – Jackson Pollock

Color Theory

Color theory is an important aspect of abstract art, as it can influence the overall mood and feeling of a piece. Artists may use a limited color palette to convey a sense of calm, or a bold, bright palette to convey energy and excitement.

For example, Mark Rothko’s signature style involves using large blocks of color, often in deep, rich tones, to create a sense of depth and emotion.


Composition refers to the arrangement of visual elements in a piece of art. In abstract art, this can involve creating a sense of balance and harmony through the use of shapes, lines, and negative space.

For example, Piet Mondrian’s abstract compositions are known for their use of geometric shapes and primary colors, arranged in a balanced and harmonious way.

  1. Tip: Take the time to observe the different techniques used in abstract art. Try to identify the various methods discussed in this section in the works of different artists.
  2. Tip: Experiment with your own techniques and methods when creating your own abstract art. Don’t be afraid to try new things and take risks.

The techniques used in abstract art are varied and diverse, and there’s no one “right” way to create abstract art. The beauty of abstract art lies in its freedom and experimentation, so let your creativity run wild!

Developing Your Visual Perspective

Now that you have a better understanding of abstract art, it’s time to develop your visual perspective. Gaining a deeper appreciation for abstract art is not something that happens overnight. It requires patience, observation, and an open mind.

One of the most important things to remember is not to rush. Take your time with each artwork and allow yourself to fully absorb and appreciate it. Don’t be afraid to spend a few minutes or even longer looking at an artwork. This will allow you to notice details and elements that you may have missed at first glance.

Another important aspect of developing your visual perspective is trusting your instincts. Art is subjective, and everyone has their own interpretation and emotional response to a piece. Don’t be afraid to embrace your own interpretation and feelings towards an artwork, even if it differs from someone else’s.


It’s also important to keep an open mind and be willing to learn and explore. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, read up on artists and movements, and experiment with different ways of interpreting and analyzing abstract art. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to appreciate abstract art!

The Elements of Abstract Art

Abstract art is often characterized by the use of bold colors, shapes, and forms that challenge traditional artistic conventions. However, to truly appreciate and understand abstract art, it is essential to recognize the underlying elements and principles that give meaning and structure to these works.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key elements of abstract art:


Line is a fundamental building block in abstract art, and can be used in a variety of ways to create different effects. Thin, delicate lines can convey a sense of fragility or vulnerability, while thick, heavy lines can create a bold, dynamic impact. Lines can also be used to create patterns and textures that enhance the overall visual composition of a work.


Shapes are created by lines and can be either geometric or organic. Geometric shapes, such as squares and circles, are precise and defined, while organic shapes, such as blobs and splatters, are more fluid and irregular. Shapes can be used to convey different emotions and moods, such as stability, chaos, or fluidity.


Color is perhaps the most recognizable element of abstract art, and can be used to create a range of moods and emotions. Bold, bright colors can create a sense of excitement or energy, while muted or monochromatic colors can evoke a sense of calm or contemplation. Colors can also be used to create contrast and depth, and to highlight certain parts of a composition.


Texture refers to the surface quality of a work of art, and can be smooth, rough, or somewhere in between. Texture can be created through various techniques, such as applying paint thickly or using specific tools to create patterns or texture. Texture can create a sense of depth and dimensionality, and can also invite the viewer to engage more closely with the work of art.


The composition of a work of art refers to the arrangement of its various elements, such as lines, shapes, colors, and textures. A well-composed work of abstract art will have a strong sense of balance, harmony, and movement, and will invite the viewer to explore and engage with its various parts.

Take into account the existing color palette in your home and choose a custom piece that harmonizes or provides a striking contrast

“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” – Claude Monet

By understanding these key elements of abstract art, you can begin to appreciate the complexity and beauty of this diverse and dynamic art form. Remember, there is no one “right” way to interpret or appreciate abstract art – it is ultimately up to the viewer to engage with the work and find their own meaning and value within it.

Understanding Abstract Art Movements

Now that you have a better grasp of the techniques used in creating abstract art, let’s explore the movements that have shaped the genre.

First up, we have Cubism, which emerged in the early 20th century. This movement played with the concept of simultaneity, breaking down objects into geometric shapes and presenting them from multiple angles at once. Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is a prime example of Cubism, with its fragmented forms and distorted perspectives.

Next, there’s Surrealism, which focused on unleashing the subconscious mind through art. Surrealist works often incorporated dreamlike imagery and unexpected combinations of objects. One of the most famous Surrealist painters is Salvador Dali, whose melting clocks in The Persistence of Memory have become an iconic image of the movement.

Finally, Abstract Expressionism emerged in the mid-20th century and is often considered the first purely American art movement. This movement prioritized the emotional and physical qualities of painting, encouraging artists to use gestural brushstrokes and expressive marks. One of the most well-known Abstract Expressionist artists is Jackson Pollock, whose action paintings like Lavender Mist convey a sense of raw energy and spontaneity.

Understanding Abstract Art Movements

Understanding these movements can help deepen your appreciation and interpretation of abstract art. By recognizing the techniques and ideas behind each movement, you can better understand the context and meaning of specific works.

Interpreting Abstract Art: Subjectivity vs. Objectivity

Welcome to the most mind-boggling section of our guide. Brace yourselves, folks, because we’re about to dive into the never-ending conundrum of subjectivity versus objectivity when it comes to interpreting abstract art.

Let’s start by defining these terms, shall we? Subjectivity refers to an interpretation based on personal feelings, emotions, and experiences. Objectivity, on the other hand, refers to an interpretation based on facts, evidence, and analysis.

So, which one is the “correct” way to interpret abstract art? Well, here’s the thing: there is no “correct” way. Abstract art, by its very nature, is open to interpretation. It’s up to the viewer to decide what it means to them.

But wait, you may ask, what about the artist’s intention? Doesn’t that matter? Yes and no. While an artist may have had a specific intention behind their work, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the viewer has to interpret it the same way. Art is a subjective experience, after all.

That being said, there are different approaches to interpreting abstract art that can be helpful. Let’s take a look at a few:

Emotional response

One approach to interpreting abstract art is to focus on your emotional response to the piece. What feelings does it evoke? What mood does it create? This approach is highly subjective, but it can provide a deeply personal connection to the artwork.

Cultural context

Another approach is to consider the cultural context in which the artwork was created. What was happening in society at the time? What was the artist trying to communicate about the world around them? This approach is more objective, but it can provide a deeper understanding of the artwork’s meaning.

Formal analysis

A third approach is to conduct a formal analysis of the artwork. This involves looking closely at the visual elements of the piece, such as color, shape, line, and texture, and analyzing how they work together to create meaning. This approach is more objective than the first two, but it can provide a more structured way of analyzing and understanding the artwork.

Ultimately, the approach you take to interpreting abstract art is up to you. The key is to be open-minded and willing to embrace different perspectives. As the great abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky once said, “Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.”

three abstractly painted horses running in a stylized manner in mixed media ,by artist Gabrielle Benot

Unrestrained by Gabrielle Benot

Navigating Art Galleries and Exhibitions

So, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and explore the world of abstract art in a gallery setting? Congrats, you courageous culture-seeker, you. But before you head out the door, let’s go over a few tips to help you navigate the wild and wacky world of art galleries and exhibitions.

Get Your Game Face On

First things first, let’s talk attitude. You’re not going to impress anyone by walking through the gallery with a bored expression and a half-empty coffee cup in your hand. No, sir. Whether you’re a seasoned art critic or a newbie just dipping your toes in the waters of abstract art, bring your A-game and come ready to engage with the artworks and the space they occupy. Not only will you have a more enjoyable experience, but you might just learn a thing or two along the way.

Look, Listen, and Learn

When you’re in a gallery or exhibition, it’s important to use all your senses to take in the pieces on display. Look closely at the artworks, paying attention to the details in the composition, the colors, and the brushstrokes. Listen to the sounds of the space around you – are there any audio installations playing? Can you hear the chatter of other visitors? And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Gallery staff are there to help you navigate the space and can provide valuable insights into the artworks on display.

Read The Room

Galleries and exhibitions can vary dramatically in terms of their layout, lighting, and presentation. Some galleries might be dimly lit with moody music playing in the background, while others might be brightly lit with natural light streaming in through the windows. Take note of the environment and how it makes you feel – does it enhance your experience of the artworks? Or does it distract from it? Additionally, pay attention to the layout of the exhibition and how the artworks are displayed. Are they arranged thematically or chronologically? Or are they presented in a more random or chaotic fashion? Understanding the curatorial decisions behind the exhibition can provide a deeper understanding of the artworks on display.

Leave Your Preconceptions at the Door

One of the biggest barriers to enjoying abstract art is the idea that it’s somehow elitist or inaccessible. But here’s the thing – abstract art is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re an art history graduate or a street artist – if you’re open to new experiences and willing to engage with the artworks on display, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the world of abstract art.

art gallery

So, there you have it – a crash course in navigating art galleries and exhibitions. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and approach the experience with an open mind. Happy exploring!

Cultivating Your Own Abstract Art Collection

If you’ve been bitten by the abstract art bug, it’s only natural to want to start your own collection. But where to start? Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to building a collection of stunning abstract artworks that you’ll love for years to come.

Research Artists

Researching artists is a crucial step to building an abstract art collection. Start with the artists you admire and read about their background and artistic process. Look for up-and-coming artists, too, as they may be more affordable now but their star could rise in the future. And don’t be afraid to take a chance on an unknown artist – you never know what gems you might unearth!

Understand Market Values

As with any art collection, it’s important to understand the market value of the artworks you’re interested in. Keep an eye on auctions and galleries to get a sense of pricing. And remember: the value of an artwork isn’t just monetary. If you love a particular piece, its value to you is priceless.

Build a Personal Connection

When it comes to abstract art, personal connections are key. Allow yourself to be drawn in by a piece that speaks to you, even if you can’t quite put your finger on why. And don’t be shy about asking the artist or gallery owner about the artwork’s backstory or meaning – it can add a whole new layer of appreciation to your collection.

Keep Your Own Tastes in Mind

Ultimately, your collection should reflect your own tastes and preferences. Don’t feel pressured to collect certain artists or artworks just because they’re trendy or popular. Instead, focus on collecting pieces that genuinely move you, that make you feel something.

tips for cultivating an abstract art collection

Remember: collecting abstract art is a journey, not a destination. Allow yourself to explore and experiment, and you’re sure to discover some true gems.

Frequently Asked Questions

So, you’re still scratching your head trying to comprehend that abstract art hanging on your wall? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some frequently asked questions about looking at and understanding abstract art:

What if I don’t understand the meaning of an abstract artwork?

Well, who says there has to be a singular meaning? That’s the beauty of abstract art – it can be open to interpretation. So, embrace your own thoughts and feelings on the artwork, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or do some research to learn more about it.

Can anyone appreciate abstract art?

Absolutely! Abstract art is all about emotions, sensory experiences, and exploring the unknown. Anyone can appreciate these qualities and how they are represented in abstract art. Plus, who doesn’t love a good dose of visual stimulation?

Do I need to have an art degree to appreciate abstract art?

Not at all! While art history and theory can certainly enhance your understanding of abstract art, it’s not a prerequisite for appreciating it. Trust your own instincts and feelings when looking at abstract art – after all, art is meant to be felt as much as it is understood.

Is it okay to not like abstract art?

Of course! Art is subjective, and what speaks to one person may not speak to another. Don’t force yourself to like any particular style of art – instead, be open to exploring different types and finding what resonates with you personally.

How do I know if I’m interpreting an abstract artwork “correctly”?

There’s no one “correct” way to interpret abstract art – as we mentioned earlier, it can be open to multiple interpretations. Instead, focus on developing your own understanding and connection with the artwork. Ask yourself what emotions it evokes, what visual elements stand out to you, and what you think the artist may have been trying to convey.

Got more questions about abstract art? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us – we love a good art-related discussion!