There are generally two types of paintings- representational and abstract. While representational painting portrays recognizable objects, abstract painting does not look like a particular object. Instead, abstract art is made up of designs, shapes and colors. (http://www.harley.com/art/abstract-art/ ) The meaning of abstract art is, in its most simplified form, art that relies on the emotions of the artist and the elements of design rather than exact representation. This broad definition allows artists almost unlimited freedom of expression. Some abstract artists create compositions that have no precedent in nature. Other abstract artists work from nature and then interpret their subjects in a nonrepresentational manner. In other words, as found on Wikipedia by Answers.com, when abstract art represents the natural world, it "does so by capturing something of its immutable intrinsic qualities rather than by imitating its external appearance." (http://www.answers.com/topic/abstract-art)
Historically, abstract art has existed for centuries, as Jewish and Islamic traditional forbids the use of representational art. (http://www.artelino.com/articles/abstract_art.asp) However, the roots of what we generally term "abstract art" can be traced to the Impressionism movement of the 1880s-1890s. Impressionism disregarded the notion that art was supposed to portray images. Post Impressionism continued this trend and placed more emphasis on the artist's emotions and expression. Wassily Kandinsky and Kasimir Malevich were the first to really create works that were pure abstraction. Kandinsky was the founder of the Abstraction movement and even published a book detailing his theories on art and spirituality, On the Spiritual in Art. (http://www.artelino.com/articles/abstract_art.asp) Kandinsky created a series of pieces with numbered titles beginning with, "Improvisation" and "Composition." (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/kandinsky/) These works were...
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