Sometimes in life, there are things which are better left ambiguous. Abstract art is one of those things. From Kandinsky’s Expressionism to Pollock’s action painting, abstract art is the consummate 20th century style – an irreplaceable component of modern art.
A designer favourite, infinitely evolving and more objective than most – abstract art rocks the interior design world. Here are some styles you should know.
Monochrome is undoubtedly the universal colour palette for abstract artwork. Not too bold, not too passive, it manages to retain all of the edge for which modern art is known whilst being timeless in the process. Plus, there’s the added bonus of not needing to feel too concerned about incorporating pieces into existing colour palettes. Style a series of multiples together for a considered, tailored look or hang a large-scale canvas for maximum wow factor.
Image Credit: David Hicks/Photography: Mark Roper
Take notes from this energising waterfront living room by David Hicks and invest in a dimensional piece. These are the kind of artworks that you feel like you might just get sucked into. Sometimes hypnotic, sometimes elusive but always intriguing, the style is quite an eye-catcher. Vaporous designs are always mysterious and can be powerful in vibrant or soothing in neutral ones; hypnotising layers are practically kaleidoscopic (in a good way); and graphic op art has cerebral nuances.
Think Pollock, Kline and De Kooning. Gestural artwork mixes impassioned emotion and movement to the nth degree wrought of the artist’s deceptive wild abandon (nothing could be further from the truth, of course). De Kooning once wrote, “I paint this way because I can keep putting more and more things into it – drama, anger, pain, love – through your eyes it again becomes an emotion or an idea.” Channel the look with determined brushstrokes, sinuous swirls and sheer streaks.
With his blurred lines and blurred dimensions, Rothko was the pioneer of soft focus art and, to this day, remains the preeminent example. The style has evolved over the years to include textural pieces (like those of Gerhard Richter) and contemporary works continue in this vein. Forgoing sharp geometry in favour of ethereal forms and apparently limitless dimensions, these works rethink the style with different techniques, including scumbling (applying a thin layer of paint in a semi-circular motion for a softer look). Dense textures and painterly shapes also characterise this type of abstract art. Use works of this style as a springboard for a complementary colour palette.
Image Credit: N Studio
Being one of Modern art’s predominant features, an abstract art collection without colour misses a major opportunity to fully tap into the game-changing 20th century movement. Take notes from Cubism, Suprematism and Bauhaus and anchor a space with a colour block piece. Bold and angular, colour blocking works best uninhibited by pattern or texture (the wall panelling of this N Studio space is just enough interest without being interfering). Teamed with contemporary furniture the look is sharp and informed; teamed with antiques, the sense of a time-layered space emerges.
Image Credit: Shalini Misra
Not just for streets, graffiti art was made respectable by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jean Dubuffet and, more recently, Banksy and is a key abstract art form. Its style is similar to gestural in its use of natural movements but it retains a gritty, almost destructive quality. Graffiti art’s spray marks, bleeding paint and gravity-produced drips render it a nonchalant, effortlessly cool art choice.