All the major artistic movements that emerged in the first two decades of the 20th century, such as Expressionism, Cubism and Futurism, have, in one way or another, emphasized the difference between art and the natural representation of a figurative motif. Since then, abstract art has grown and is now the most popular genre of art (with a plethora of different sub-categories) thanks to great names such as Picasso, Mondrian, Rothko, Kooning, Matisse and Pollock.
Abstract art is on the rise and has found its place with a large public. However, determining the quality of an abstract work can be somewhat problematic. There is no doubt that established artists within these currents have a developed sense of composition, colour and form. There are, however, critics who question both the skill and the mode of artistic expression. What is the difference between an abstract work created by a professional artist and a splash of colour on a canvas?
Of course, there are many different opinions in different schools, but some common denominators have crystallized more often than others and can serve as guidelines for the curious art enthusiast.
Is the artist uniform and consistent over time and in the individual work? If a portfolio is filled with works of art ranging from mediocre to high quality, this is a warning signal, one can always assume that the artist is still in the development phase. But if earlier works are still holding a thread, that’s a good sign. The same applies to work in individual painting. The flow must be consistent from one side of the painting to the other, with a planned and precise design.
Colours that do not work well together are a clear sign of lack of understanding for harmonization of work. Of course, this may be a conscious choice of the artist who wishes to express something specific with clear deviations, but the harmonic colour combinations must be obvious.
Most of the time, qualitative abstract art, in the genre of painting, is constructed through several layers of colours. Usually, the artwork consists of an underpainting and these layers together create a thicker texture that gives an impression of depth and perspective.
All great art has a meaning behind it. Every feeling, whether positive or negative, can be thrown on the canvas to make it more important. There is intention and will behind what happens on the canvas. You can easily recognize an abstract work of art that has been randomly painted because it lacks personality and character.
As artists complete more and more works, their knowledge is enriched and they learn to perfect the techniques visible in their work. Contrary to what is believed in abstract art, the techniques of this kind of art are very difficult to imitate. The complexity of an abstract work can be extremely high, but it is not necessarily discovered until it is examined more closely.