Abstract paintings can stir our emotions, creatively inspire us, and add a greater level of depth to an entire room simply through the artist’s use of color, shape, and texture. Alongside music, abstract art is among the purest forms of expression, as it allows artists the freedom to communicate feelings and emotions unconstrained by forms found in objective reality. Abstract paintings may be made using many media, with many artists using acrylics, while others prefer to create abstract oil paintings or abstract watercolor paintings. As a result of the freedom abstract art brings, many contemporary artists are drawn to create non-representational works, and abstract canvas paintings are perpetually in demand by collectors and art lovers around the globe. Browse the works below for just a sampling of the many abstract artworks for sale on Saatchi Art by some of the most promising artists working today. If you’re looking for paintings of a particular style, sign up for our Art Advisory service and work one-on-one with an expert art curator to find the perfect work for you.
Abstract paintings emerged from the late 19th century and early 20th century modernist movements against traditional academic painting in Europe. Most artists until this turning point painted according to Classical Realism methods, using realistic perspective, shading, and other techniques to create recognizable scenes and subject matter. Many modern artists who sought to create art for art’s sake, without referring to objects in the real world, instead turned to abstract canvas paintings. This was believed to be a “pure art” with subjects invented by the artists as opposed to being taken from the world. Abstract art emphasizes a work’s formal qualities over its representational subject matter, leading artists to experiment with different techniques such as using vivid yet arbitrary colors, creating new shapes, and rejecting realistic three-dimensional perspective. These approaches to abstract art paintings spanned across several movements, including German Expressionism, Orphism, Suprematism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism.
Many artists experimented with colors in their abstract canvas paintings. German Expressionism, for example, was characterized by its vivid palette and their correspondence to human feelings. Wassily Kandinsky, a well-known German Expressionist, believed art should function like music, expressing inner emotion without representing the real world. Fauvism depicted objects with intense arbitrary color, while Orphism was characterized by bright patches of color rather than a figurative subject. The rejection of three-dimensional perspective was also crucial to abstract art paintings. Cubism, with its flattened perspective of objects, paved the way for pure abstract painting in this sense. Russian Suprematist artist Kazimir Malevich furthered this flatness by placing flat colorful shapes on pure white backgrounds in his works, and De Stijl painter Piet Mondrian painted flat grids in red, blue, yellow, white, and black. Surrealist painters, who were concerned with tapping into the subconscious, created biomorphic shapes and organic lines, channeling the imaginative drawings of a child. Abstract expressionists approach abstract paintings by experimenting with gesture. These works were called action paintings because they served as a document of the painters’ literal actions, be it walking around the canvas dripping paint a la Pollock or revealing the aggressive brushstrokes of Willem de Kooning. As with other abstract movements, these painters emphasized color and how the work corresponds with their own inner emotions over shape or form.