Distinguishing Figurative Art from Abstract Art

If you are an art lover, you must have gone through two very similar but distinct kinds of art i.e. Figurative and Abstract. Questions relating to their meaning and origin have lead to some riddles of modern art.

Art has been a part f continuous ambiguity over thousands of years. Today, everything including nothing, can be accounted as an art.

Figurative art or “figurativism” is particularly paintings and sculptures representing real object sources. After arrival of abstract art, figurative art was referred to modern art reflecting the real world. The key elements of figurative art paintings are line, shape, color, mass, volume, texture and perspective. These elements are included in abstract as well but the difference is that figurative art is brought to use for creating an impression of form and space. It is more appealing to the eyes as people resemble more towards that form of art work, while abstract art is more complex to understand. It leads an edge out because the modern paintings are outcome of creativeness and experimentation of existing old artistic styles.

Abstract art generally reflects on forms that suggest a meaning, rather than deducing a recognized motif to point a particular theory and content. While figurative paintings revolve around imitation or realistic representations. The idea of abstract existed a bit in the late 19th century but pure abstraction evolved around 1913. Pablo Picasso, an infamous Spanish painter, sculptor known as the father of Modern art, developed the artistic style “Cubism” using Brownish and neutral colors. It was considered very close to abstract art, yet Picasso was opposed to the idea of pure abstraction. Abstract art involved the disruption of traditional understandings, which led to two logical conclusions: grid and monochrome.

Whereas due to the expressive and experimental urges of modern artists, figures have started to disappear from figurative paintings. These were not eminent in the 20th century but in order to record the contemporary social life, expressionists started to put humans as the central style showcasing their yearnings and anxieties.

Abstract paintings depicted content more than forms, they did not carry any associations with naturalism. Instead they employed expressive colors for communicating with the viewer in an immediate way. The lack of figuration in figurative paintings revolves around post-war period, where politics eroded the social reality and world war shook humanity. Expressionists tried to bring out that environment in their art.

Although, it’s said that Jackson Pallock, influential painter of abstract art tried representing his unconscious and thus memory images kept flowing through. While others maintain that abstract art is a sort of language like no other, thus it is connected to conventional imagery. Philip Guston brought figurative paintings to surface in the late 1960s. He had begun to feel that abstraction could not bring out the debacle of that period. So, he continued modernizing the abstract art into figurative.

The huge pitfall today is that there is still no distinct clarification between art and non-art. The problem worsened when artists felt the nominal need of alternative kind of art. A thorough survey of the above differences describes the connectivity of the two forms of art. It is a complex foothold to make the reader understand the complex idea. This attribute becomes basis of all the classification. A painting consisting of sunflowers could be dissected into different forms but further classified into a particular class name. Thus, there is always a “symbol” which connects or disconnects two similar paintings. In order to give meaning toa specific painting, we need pictorials along it, as they will be the verbal language. On the contrary, figurative art includes the symbols originated in the culture. It has a language of its own, showing mythology, religion, philosophy and so on.

Art has a special tendency of either being connected or of being absolute unnatural to the real world. One can visit art galleries and study the forms to gain a precise understanding. These days, surfing internet may not be enough to gain the art knowledge but those who like to have an art collection have an opportune to buy paintings online. Art forms are too diversified and evolved and its traces can be found anywhere in the world.