Vassily Kandinsky to Jackson Pollock, Musement shares eight of the world’s top Abstract artists.
There’s something just downright special about Abstract art. These powerful visual depictions force us to delve deep into our minds to question, ponder, understand, and unravel the artist’s message. At the same time, they can, in the best way possible, baffle. Regardless of where you stand, there’s no denying that Abstract artists have profoundly impacted art history, and here’s a look at eight of them.
1. Wassily Kandinsky, 1866 – 1944
This Russian artist is believed to have spearheaded the entire Abstract art movement. He had an interesting life: born in Moscow, raised in Odessa where he attended art school and then returned to Moscow for university then moved to Munich just before Russian Revolution. In Germany, he saw the rise of the Nazis before relocating to France in 1933 where he lived for the rest of his life. His thought-provoking works display different art styles, and some of his most famous are Circles in a Circle (1923) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Yellow, Red, Blue (1925) at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and Composition VII(1913) at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
2. Jackson Pollock, 1912-1956
This esteemed American Expressionist Abstract artist is best known for colorful swirly drip paintings and during his career, he appeared on the cover of Life Magazine and presented at the 1948 Venice Biennale. Some of Pollock’s most famous works include Mural (1943), which Peggy Guggenheim commissioned for her New York City townhouse, The She-Wolf (1943), which is on display at MoMA, Number 17A (1948), which sold for a record $200 million at a 2015 auction, and Autumn Rhythm: Number 30 (1950), which is a must-see at The Met.
3. Piet Mondrian, 1872-1944
This Dutch artist is known for his use of Neoplasticism style, in which he implemented primary colors, geometry, and asymmetry in a style so remarkable that Yves Saint Laurent designed dresses inspired by his work. His Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1942-1943) and Composition in Planes (1914) are at MoMA while works from his unmistakeable primary color Compositions can be found in various locations.
4. Agnes Martin, 1912 – 2004
An American-Canadian Abstract minimalist painter, Agnes Martin is closely associated with Taos, New Mexico, where she spent most of her adult life. Her works have a delicate quality, and often depict grids and geometric shapes that can conjure a calming sensation within the viewer. Among her most defining works are Untitled 1992 at the Guggenheim in New York, Harbour 1 (1957) at MoMA and Happy Holiday (1999) at the Tate Modern.
5. Willem De Kooning, 1904-1997
This Dutch Expressionist Abstract artist made his home in New York, where he rolled with an artistic crowd that included Jackson Pollock. He generally interpreted people, landscapes and still life, and his most emblematic works include Excavation (1950), which can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago, Seated Man (1939) at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Woman, 1 (1950-52), at MoMA.
6. Mark Rothko, 1903 – 1970
Am American painter of Lithuanian-Jewish descent, Rothko didn’t consider himself part of any art movement though he’s generally classified into the Abstract Expressionist genre. “I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions—tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on,” he stated about his work, which is made distinct by aligned vertical rectangles in bright colors against a colored backdrop. His work is enrapturing and you can stare at it for hours. Keep an eye out for Black on Maroon (1959) at the Tate Modern in London, No. 61 (Rust and Blue) (1953) at the Musem of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and No 14 (1960) at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
7. Bridget Riley, 1931 –
One of the U.K.’s leading living artists, Bridget Riley takes Abstract art to a new level via Op Art, or Optical Art, a genre characterized by optical illusions. See Fall (1963) and Hesiate (1964) among several others at the Tate Modern as well as Current (1965) at MoMA.
8. Paul Klee, 1879 – 1940
This Swiss artist had an individual style dabbled with several art movements including Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism, and he’s said to have had a strong influence on the Abstract art movement. Hitler classified his Twittering Machine (1922) as “degenerate art.” Today, the work is on display at MoMA and reprints adorn the walls of children’s bedrooms around the world. His other popular works include Flower Myth (1918) at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover and Ad Parnassum at the Kunstmuseum in Bern.