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Is Abstract Art In Decline?

5 mins read
A museum visitor walks past paintings by Mark Rothko at the National Gallery of Art East Building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - APRIL 20, 2018: A museum visitor walks past paintings by Mark Rothko at the National Gallery of Art East Building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

“But nobody is visually naive any longer. We are cluttered with images, and only abstract art can bring us to the threshold of the divine.”

― Dominique De Menil, The Rothko Chapel: Writings on Art and the Threshold of the Divine

Abstract art is said to be on the decline nowadays. As we can see, the public is now more enthusiastic in more direct mediums. For example, photography, or the Neo-expressionism art represented by Basquiat. They are taking the art world by storm.

Are people now still willing to read the hidden messages in abstract art while others choose direct mediums to express themselves?

After investigating the origins of art, we discovered that when humans could not accurately imitate, they began to create primitive art through abstract thinking. Abstract figures in primitive petroglyphs found all over the world.

In the history of art, humans have an abstract ability first and then a concrete ability. Abstraction is essential to the creation of art.

Abstract ability is the innate ability of human beings. It is an innate ability.

It may appear to be outdated abstract art now, and it was also under pressure from various parties at the beginning of its birth.

In the 1930s and 1940s of the last century, even some professional critics had mixed opinions on the newly emerging form of Abstract Expressionism. Most people are the same as we now see and feel about abstract expressionist paintings-they don’t understand.

Some artists claimed: “Our role as artists is to let the audience watch in our way-not their own.”

However, as the times have changed, the artist’s concept has also changed dramatically.

Artists are now more likely to stay back behind the scenes. They encourage people to discover their inner selves by viewing works of art.

Some artists refuse to explain their works because they want to leave space to people, to allow them to imagine and feel. They believe that their interpretation of the works will confine the audience to their universe. 

“The audience does not need to understand my purpose of creating; All they need to do is feel what they feel, and that is my meaning of creating art.”

What we need to do is immerse ourselves in the boundless world, to find our own way by listening to ourselves. We will accomplish the journey of self-exploration, self-growth, and self-improvement in this process.

It’s not that we’ve lost our ability to listen and feel empathy, and yet our lives are overloaded with information. We can find specific guidelines before taking every step. We chose to follow the instructions because it seems to be the most secure and efficient way.

We ask ourselves more often like:

  • What should I do? 
  • How should I feel? 

However, what we need more is:

  • As for who I am, what I will do?
  • How do I feel?
abstract art painting in red, blue, yellow and orange color

A fundamental purpose common to most art forms is the underlying intention to appeal to, and connect with, human emotion.

Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically 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 exploration into unknown areas.

Abstraction still commands the artistic allegiance of a large portion of the best talents in one form or another. It continues to influence the largest ambitions, with few exceptions.

The total energy and imagination put into it show no signs of diminishing, and the public’s devotion to the special gratifications it delivers is likely greater than ever—if only because the public’s desire for everything is significantly larger than ever.

After all, abstract art remains a major form of contemporary visual expression at the moment. So… Is abstract art in decline? I would say no, this assumption contradicts the facts.

Born and raised in Shanghai, living and working in Paris.
Stylist, editor, creative director and art project manager.

Academic background: English language and Literature, History of Western Art
Professional background: Art Curation, Fashion Design, Styling, Creative Marketing

Currently pursuing studies in cognitive psychology and the art of negotiation.