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Abstraction Art Quotes

125 art quotes about Abstraction | Share this page of quotes about Abstraction on Facebook | Submit more Abstraction art quotes

In a strict sense photography can never be abstract, for the camera is incapable of synthetic integration. (Ansel Adams)

We aren't just eyes; we have memories, feelings. Emotional content is what makes life whole, and a lot of abstraction has no connection with people... (Mark Adams)

Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature. I prefer to see with closed eyes. (Josef Albers)

Whoever thought the immediate alternates with the immediate action is not an abstract painter. (Pierre Alechinsky)

As there is not the least trace of abstraction in this art, we will call it concrete art. (Hans Jean Arp)

A painting or sculpture not modelled on any real object is every bit as concrete and sensuous as a leaf or a stone... but it is an incomplete art which privileges the intellect to the detriment of the senses. (Hans Jean Arp)

Abstraction demands more from me than realism. Instead of reproducing something outside of me, now I go inward and use everything I've learned thus far in my life. (Susan Avishai)

Painting is a duality and abstract painting is an entirely aesthetic thing. It always remains on one level. It is only really interesting in the beauty of its patterns or its shapes. (Francis Bacon)

The abstract has no emotional content... the abstract is more powerful the more abstract it is. (Cecil Balmond)

When realistic images or patterns are seen in an abstract painting, they are often parallels brought about by processes in painting which echo processes in nature. (Darby Bannard)

-b.1902 d.1981...
Abstract art today needs no defense. It has become one of the many ways to paint or carve or model. But it is not yet a kind of art which people like without some study and some sacrifice of prejudice. (Alfred H. Barr Jr.)

In principle any abstraction of the object is allowed which has a sufficiently strong creative power behind it. (Max Beckmann)

I hardly need to abstract things for each object is unreal enough already, so unreal that I can only make it real by means of painting. (Max Beckmann)

The abstract artists that I admire were grounded in drawing, composition and design and it shows in their work. (Jennifer Bellinger)

If you work with abstract painting for a period of time, you may come to think of it as a melody, a song, a piece of beautiful music. (Judi Betts)

All paintings are abstract. Some abstract paintings also have pictorial representation or narrative content, but in essence they are first and foremost abstract because we have only paint. (Robert Bissett)

They are imbeciles who call my work abstract. That which they call abstract is the most realistic, because what is real is not the exterior but the idea, the essence of things. (Constantin Brancusi)

When you see a fish you don't think of its scales, do you? You think of its speed, its floating, flashing body seen through the water... If I made fins and eyes and scales, I would arrest its movement, give a pattern or shape of reality. I want just the flash of its spirit. (Constantin Brancusi)

If I choose abstraction over reality, it is because I consider it the lesser chaos. (Robert Brault)

Abstract art is a fundamental distrust of the theory of reality concocted by the eyes. (Robert Brault)

Abstract art has come into being as a necessary expression of the feelings and thoughts of our age; it has added new dimensions to creative painting. (Leonard Brooks)

Abstract Art... is part of the constant change and vital searching that energizes every true art. (Leonard Brooks)

In every landscape should reside jewels of abstract art waiting to be discovered. (Melissa Brown)

In the process of making a painting in an abstract way, the painter is in search of a reality. Not one of realistic objects, but of the complete end result. The painting is experienced as a whole, and must evoke in the painter the absolute conviction that this is how it should be and no other way. (Paul Burlin)

I was not ready for abstraction. I clung to earth and her dear shapes, her density, her herbage, her juice. I wanted her volume, and I wanted to hear her throb. (Emily Carr)

What I mean by 'abstract' is something which comes to life spontaneously through a gamut of contrasts, plastic at the same time as psychic, and pervades both the picture and the eye of the spectator with conceptions of new and unfamiliar elements... (Marc Chagall)

I can't always reach the image in my mind... almost never, in fact... so that the abstract image I create is not quite there, but it gets to the point where I can leave it. (Chuck Close)

You can't look at abstract art without thinking. (Patricia Cole-Ferullo)

The abstact nature of reality is the source of beauty. (William DeRaymond)

By object is meant some element in the complex whole that is defined in abstraction from the whole of which it is a distinction. (John Dewey)

Abstract literally means to draw from or separate. In this sense every artist is abstract... a realistic or non-objective approach makes no difference. The result is what counts. (Richard Diebenkorn)

An abstract painting need in 50 years by no means look 'abstract' any longer. (Marcel Duchamp)

By means of the sign, man frees himself from the here and now for abstraction. (Umberto Eco)

Abstract art has helped us to experience the emotional power inherent in pure form. (Anton Ehrenzweig)

To think of abstraction as an end in itself is undoubtedly letting oneself be led into a cul-de-sac and can only lead to exhaustion and impotence. (Jacob Epstein)

Abstraction is an esoteric language. (Eric Fischl)

Abstract artists tell their stories with shapes, color, edges, movement, and value - just like when one is painting a beautiful scene. The difference is, of course, there is no scene. The scene is within the artist. I often get asked, 'How do you know when you are done?' I am done when the story is told. (Gwen Fox)

The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real. (Lucian Freud)

We commonly call it abstraction, when now it is really nothing more than extrapolation. And yet it goes on. (John Gargano)

Do not copy nature too much. Art is an abstraction. (Paul Gauguin)

We've just been through a period of extreme abstract expressionism and it's coming now to a screeching halt. Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. (Frank Gehry)

Abstraction generally involves implication, suggestion and mystery, rather than obvious description. (Robert Genn)

Art, indeed, began with abstraction. (S. Giedion)

It was only since the turn of the century that one returned to the immense role that abstraction plays in the human mind by its power of concentration upon absolute essentials. (S. Giedion)

My current works are abstracts cunningly disguised as landscapes. It is the Canadian way. (Ted Godwin)

Abstract painters: redefine your perspectives. Think in terms of the whole, not simply its parts. (Josh Goldberg)

Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes... Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an explosion into unknown areas. (Arshile Gorky)

If you make pictures you are bound to be an abstract painter on some level. (George Green)

There isn't any method of improvement inherent in abstract painting. There is no challenge. (Daniel E. Greene)

For well over a century landscape painting has flirted with abstraction, subordinating drawing to light and color, while abstraction has repeatedly compromised pure form by alluding to the natural world. (Nancy Grimes)

With abstract art I can create in the moment. No preconceived ideas. I just put some color on the canvas and keep going. (Peggy Guichu)

When I see people making 'abstract' painting, I think it's just a dialogue and a dialogue isn't enough. That is to say, there is you painting and this canvas. I think there has to be a third thing; it has to be a trialogue. (Philip Guston)

Abstract art is a creative interplay between the conscious and the unconscious, with the conscious mind making all the final decisions and in control throughout. (Lawren Harris)

Abstract drawing is a necessary thing to do even though it's difficult, and it's more difficult than people think. (Stanley William Hater)

I understand abstract art as an attempt to feed imagination with a world built through the basic sensations of the eyes. (Jean Helion)

I felt the most intense pleasure in piercing the stone in order to make an abstract form and space; quite a different sensation from that of doing it for the purpose of realism. (Barbara Hepworth)

Abstract art is the result of an attempt to make pictures more real, an attempt to come nearer to the essence of painting. (Roger Hilton)

All painting, no matter what you are painting, is abstract in that it's got to be organized. (David Hockney)

What goes on in abstract art is the proclaiming of aesthetic principles... It is in our own time that we have become aware of pure aesthetic considerations. Art never can be imitation. (Hans Hofmann)

Abstract paintings are often misunderstood but they work if they have balance. (Amanda Hyatt)

So now the floodgates are open to the delight of pure form, whatever its origin. Anything goes. (Philip Johnson)

We are not talking about a new cognition in relation to abstract art, rather a new area of cognition... (Asger Jorn)

How many people become abstract as a way of appearing profound! (Joseph Joubert)

The more abstract is form, the more clear and direct its appeal. (Wassily Kandinsky)

Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for color, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential. (Wassily Kandinsky)

The more horrifying the world becomes, the more art becomes abstract. (Paul Klee)

Even an abstract form has to have a likeness. (Willem de Kooning)

How do abstract artists know when they're getting better? (David Leffel)

An abstract painting is exactly what it proports to be, whether it be paint splatters or stripes, while a representational painting has to give the illusion of the paint being air, or flesh, or flowers... therefore abstract paintings are rather concrete while representational paintings are rather abstract. (David Leffel)

What does that represent? There was never any question in plastic art, in poetry, in music, of representing anything. It is a matter of making something beautiful, moving, or dramatic – this is by no means the same thing. (Fernand Leger)

The abstract painter considers the realist painter to be the abstract painter and himself the realist because he deals realistically with the paint and does not try to transform it into something that it is not. (Jimmy Leuders)

If the world would only build temples to Machinery in the abstract, then everything would be perfect. The painter and sculptor would have plenty to do, and could, in complete peace and suitably honored, pursue their trade without further trouble. (Wyndham Lewis)

I think we're much smarter than we were. Everybody knows that abstract art can be art, and most people know that they may not like it, even if they understand there's another purpose to it. (Roy Lichtenstein)

I make no excuses for Abstract Expressionism, but some of it was 'splash and hope.' (Jack Madson)

Abstraction is the expression of a trend, not the upshot of a process of artistic or intellectual contemplation around the crucial impact of photography. (Cornelis Le Mair)

Abstraction is itself an abstract word and has no single meaning... Every word in our language is abstract, because it represents something else. (Eric Maisel)

There are opposing forces in all living things. My work reflects this and stirs up a contrast of emotions in the viewer... perception versus annoyance. To the viewer who has reached that level of awareness, my work is no longer abstract, but very real. (Eugene J. Martin)

Abstract painting... must lead to picture making – and by its own logic back to the blank canvas, so if abstract art presents you with a blank canvas, surely it is up to you to put something on it. (John Minton)

The truly modern artist is aware of abstraction in an emotion of beauty. (Piet Mondrian)

All painting – the painting of the past as well as of the present – shows us that its essential plastic means we are only line and color. (Piet Mondrian)

In past times when one lived in contact with nature, abstraction was easy; it was done unconsciously. Now in our denaturalized age abstraction becomes an effort. (Piet Mondrian)

Painting abstract expressionistic works are the most challenging as they entail all the elements of a first class realistic piece of work, namely composition, values, etc. which need to be addressed... (Adrienne Moore)

All art is an abstraction to some degree. (Henry Moore)

One of the most striking of abstract art's appearances is her nakedness, an art stripped bare. (Robert Motherwell)

Abstract expressionism was the first American art that was filled with anger as well as beauty. (Robert Motherwell)

For a painter as abstract as myself, the collages offer a way of incorporating bits of the everyday world into pictures. (Robert Motherwell)

I have been continuously aware that in painting, I am always dealing with... a relational structure. Which in turn makes permission 'to be abstract' no problem at all. (Robert Motherwell)

For some, abstract art can be a burden... as even before one can draw a conscious decision as to what is being seen, physiological challenges are being made and processed by the eye and brain, reconstructing the shapes into patterns of recognizable objects. (Robert Lee Munoz)

All good art is abstract. (John Newman)

'Realism' has been abandoned in the search for reality: the 'principal objective' of abstract art is precisely this reality. (Ben Nicholson)

Objective painting is not good painting unless it is good in the abstract sense. A hill or tree cannot make a good painting just because it is a hill or tree. It is lines and colors put together so that they may say something. (Georgia O'Keeffe)

The abstraction is often the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can clarify in paint. (Georgia O'Keeffe)

Elegance is reduction, simplification, condensation. It is spare, stark, sleek. Elegance is cultivated abstraction. The source of Greek and Roman classicism – clarity, order, proportion, balance – is in Egypt. (Camille Paglia)

The abstract patterns created by light... simplify design and strengthen composition. (Ann Pember)

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterwards you can remove all traces of reality. There's no danger then, anyway, because the idea of the object will have left an indelible mark. (Pablo Picasso)

Like many other modern movements, Abstract Expressionism does not describe any one particular style, but rather a general attitude; not all the work was abstract, nor was it all expressive. What these artists did have in common were morally loaded themes, often heavyweight and tragic, on a grand scale. (Nicolas Pioch)

Abstraction is the way to the heart - it is not the heart itself. (John Piper)

Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. (Jackson Pollock)

Abstract art should be enjoyed just as music is enjoyed – after a while you may like it or you may not. (Jackson Pollock)

Abstracts seem to indicate more determination and conceptual maturity... but I yearn for a tree or a face or a mountain. (Faith Puleston)

You have to have time to be sorry for yourself to be a good Abstract Expressionist. (Robert Rauschenberg)

I had been working purely abstractly for so long, it was important for me to see whether I was working abstractly because I couldn't work any other way, or whether I was doing it out of choice. (Robert Rauschenberg)

Strong abstract design is created with rhythms and harmonies in shapes, lines, edges, and colors and is analogous to the rhythms in music and the harmonies between individual notes. This aspect of the painting is completely independent of the subject matter. (Barry John Raybould)

Painting, like music, has nothing to do with the reproduction of nature, nor interpretation of intellectual meanings. Whoever is able to feel the beauty of colors and forms has understood non-objective painting. (Hilla Rebay)

The only way to say what abstract is, is to say what it is not. (Ad Reinhardt)

Abstract pictures are fictive models, because they make visible a reality that we can neither see nor describe, but whose existence we can postulate. (Gerhard Richter)

The painter can and must abstract from many details in creating his painting. Every good composition is above all a work of abstraction. All good painters know this. But the painter cannot dispense with subjects altogether without his work suffering impoverishment. (Diego Rivera)

I'm not an abstractionist... I'm not interested in relationships of colour or form or anything else. (Mark Rothko)

Abstract art requires something of the viewer. It demands contemplation. Study. Flights of fancy. Feeling. (Svante Rydberg)

Art is an abstract entity living or non living, through every point in time. (Ralph Santullo)

Nature and abstract forms are both materials for art, and the choice of one or the other flows from historically changing interests. (Meyer Schapiro)

I honestly believe students of painting in the next century will laugh at the abstract art movement. They will marvel at such a drawn-out regression in the plastic arts. (Richard Schmid)

Abstraction is reality in disguise. (Ian Semple)

To abstract is to draw out the essence of a matter. To abstract in art is to separate certain fundamentals from irrelevant material which surrounds them. (Ben Shahn)

Abstraction forces you to reach the highest level of the basics. (Alan Soffer)

Abstract paintings must be as real as those created by the 16th century Italians. (Frank Stella)

Poetry is an abstraction bloodied. (Wallace Stevens)

I never wanted color to be color. I never wanted texture to be texture, or images to become shapes. I wanted them all to fuse together into a living spirit. (Clyfford Still)

All paintings are abstract ideas, not representations of a true reality. (Mike Svob)

A conscious decision to eliminate certain details and include selective bits of personal experiences or perceptual nuances, gives the painting more of a multi-dimension than when it is done directly as a visual recording. This results in a kind of abstraction... and thus avoids the pitfalls of mere decoration. (Wayne Thiebaud)

The goal of abstract art is to communicate the intangible, that which eludes the photograph and normal seeing. (Curtis Verdun)

Abstract paintings with a few brush touches too many are just like the servings of mock orange tea with added sugar. (Milos Vujasinovic)

I expect of abstraction as much as what imagery does for me... to carry meaning. (Kay WalkingStick)

Someone who is incapable of drawing, and cannot master line or colour perspective can always express themselves in some form of abstraction. (Hans Werner)

Some people who look at abstract art say 'I could do that.' A good response is, 'Go ahead but then you'll be accused of copying.' (Christopher Willard)


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Last modified: April 16, 2014