In general terms, abstract art paintings break the monotony of realism and reject the fact that paintings should depict pragmatism. In the pre-World War II era, abstract art painters mostly depicted spiritualism or intellectualism, rejecting the 20th century motto of “art for art’s sake” and replacing realism with spirituality and rationality. Furthermore, with the advent of the technology age, abstract art has gained greater significance.
Painting as an art form has undergone several changes, especially during the 20th century, wherein a transition from figurative painting to abstract painting was the chief feature of the era. Renowned painter Pablo Picasso is generally believed to have ushered the shift from figurative to abstract painting. Picasso, along with George Braque, formulated a new pictorial representation known as cubism, wherein the artists depicted an object as seen from a different viewpoint.
Abstract art painting took a further leap in 1911 with the creation of synthetic cubism and analytical cubism. These forms of cubism fragmented the subject in the painting, for example, in analytical cubism, painters used crystalline geometry, while in synthetic cubism the subjects were reduced in size. Artists like Piet Mondrian, whose paintings ultimately led to the first non-figurative paintings or pure abstract art from 1914 onwards, pioneered such forms of cubist painting. In the twentieth century, Russian painter Wassily Kandisky pioneered non-figurative art.
Furthermore, in the 1940s, another form of abstract art called Abstract Expressionism emerged, in which the theory of expressionism was applied to abstract paintings. The art form had an enormous impact on contemporary American artists, with New York becoming the hub of Abstract Expressionism. Jackson Pollock in his action paintings used this technique of abstract expressionism wherein he dripped, dropped, smeared or threw paint onto the canvas to create an art object. Other well-known followers of Abstract Expressionism, also known as the New York School and Action Painting, are Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.