What is Abstractionism? Where did it come about?

O que é Arte Abstracta?

Abstractionism: Most Famous Artists

Abstractionism or abstract art was an artistic movement integrated in the European modernist vanguards. In a period of tension, war and violence, artists needed to express their emotions. Breaking with old paradigms, they expressed themselves fleeing from reality itself, in an abstract way with lines and above all with color. With abstract art, the spectator was given the opportunity to interpret geometric shapes and explore pigments freely. We can say that there are two genres in abstractionism, expressionism and geometric. As the name implies, the first evokes the artist's emotions, establishing connections between the sound experience and the pigments. An example of this are the works of Wassily Kandinsky. The second was mainly influenced by artists such as Piet Mondrian and Malevich, who focused on mathematical rigor and ideas from cubism and futurism. Get to know the main artists of this movement in this article.


Kazimir Malevich developed from 1913 onwards, suprematism, a movement that focused on basic shapes, squares, circles and triangles with a limit of colors. The Russian artist's radical works inspired many painters and sculptors in both Europe and the United States. It is thanks to paintings like “Black”, that Kazimir Malevich is still considered today as the pioneer of abstract art.

KAZIMIR MALEVICH | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art

"Black" by Kazimir Malevich

PIET MONDRIAN (1872-1944)

Piet Mondrian was known for creating a new artistic style, which was not based on typical techniques, but on his philosophical interpretation of questioning the very limits of art by breaking with the conventional forms of painting. His compositions with primary colors, designed in an asymmetrical way, and orthogonal black lines, thus demonstrating the aesthetic beauty and limits of the painting itself.

Piet Mondrian | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art

Piet Mondrian


Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian painter extremely well known for his abstract pieces. In 1910, Kandinsky began to create abstract paintings, grouping them into three categories: “impressions”, elaborated from the landscape, “compositions”, created through a thoughtful action of construction of the painting's elements, and “improvisations”, more immediate, with images that derive from events of an emotional and interior character. The compositions were considered by Kandinsky as the main declarations of his artistic ideas. The first composition was in 1910, when he was taking his first steps in abstractionism, and the last in 1939. The “Compositions” are like a common thread present in all of Kandinsky's work. Unfortunately, the first three compositions were destroyed during World War II and only their photos survive.

Wassily Kandinsky | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art

Wassily Kandinsky

PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)

The Swiss artist was known for his works with very particular and personal characteristics. Paul Klee created pieces with a very intense chromatic variety, from practically monochromatic to polychromatic. He used various techniques and materials to produce canvases with geometric shapes, letters, numbers, arrows or even figures of animals. Literature exerted a great influence on its themes, surrounded by the mystery and beauty of nature.

Paul Klee | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art

Paul Klee


The American painter created extraordinary works that were involved in dynamic movements and gestures. Fully embracing abstraction, Jackson Pollock conveyed the ideas of freedom summoned and desired by the American population, thus making him a highly successful artist. The painter was the pioneer of paintings, entitled action painting, by the critic Clement Greenberg. From the large-scale canvases and this technique Jackson Pollock produced a very unique work.

Jackson Pollock | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art

Jackson Pollock

GRACE HARTIGAN (1922–2008)

In 1948, Grace Hartigan saw Jackson Pollock's first paintings and was "hypnotized". Influenced by her paintings, she began to paint on large canvases, being granted, in 1950, recognition as a “second generation” abstract expressionist artist. The American artist painted intensely with strong pigments seeking inspiration in books, movies, paintings and advertising. Grace Hartigan was part of a group of young people who were influenced by artists from the “first generation” of Abstract Expressionists. Until 1954, Hartigan used the name George, as a tribute to nineteenth-century writers like George Eliot. In reality, the choice was quite practical - men's work was valued more - but it can also be seen as an expression of how multiple identity is.

Grace Hartigan | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art

Grace Hartigan

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