As a painter, I know only too well that no artist can be considered to be the best. After all, all is all about the perception of aesthetics and we all have very different tastes. So, I can only speak from my own point of view, and as an abstract artist myself, there are certain individuals who I believe were the top creators of abstract art during the 20th century. Here are just five of the artists that I admire most.
- Wassily Kandinsky
Even those with very little knowledge or understanding of contemporary art have probably heard of Kandinsky. As a pioneer of the abstract art movement, his practice spanned numerous styles and techniques that have now been harnessed by new generations of painters like myself.
Initially, Kandinsky used expressive colour masses which were separated from lines and forms before progressing to merge abstraction with geometry to create geometric abstract art. Finally, while teaching at the Bauhaus, he changed his practice once more, choosing to focus more on straight lines, leading to his final masterpieces which boasted the contrasts of angled and curving lines.
- Kazimir Malevich
Another abstract artist, a true painting pioneer, Malevich is less well-known than Kandinsky but is no less important having creating Suprematism, an especially radical abstract art movement. His primary interest was in searching for painting’s “zero degree”, or the point past which art cannot go without no longer being art. His work, therefore, centred around simple forms, subjects and motifs with geometric shapes like lines, squares and circles in a limited colour palette featuring heavily.
- Jackson Pollock
Perhaps the most famous abstract artist of them all, Jackson Pollock’s heritage lies in technique and not in form. By adopting Gestural Abstraction as his painting style, Pollock used dabbing, smearing, flinging and dripping of paint onto canvas to create highly dynamic, instinctual and direct art that is iconic and instantly recognisable.
- Yves Klein
Although Yves Klein is most linked with performance art and minimalism, I would argue that he has an indisputable legacy in the contemporary art world. Perhaps best-known for the trademark ultramarine pigment that he patented in 1961, Klein is quoted as saying that “blue….is beyond dimensions” suggesting the sky and sea, two things that are visible and real in nature and that are, in themselves, most abstract.
- Lucio Fontana
If you overlook the legacy of Lucio Fontana it’s impossible to truly understand the nature of abstract contemporary art. This Italian artist is well-known as a pioneer of Spatialism, and in 1949 he created his initial set of paintings which involves puncturing of the canvas with holes (or buchi) as well as his very first spatial environment which took the form of fluorescent paintings, black lights and shapeless sculptures which were designed for viewing in a darkened space. By utilising this practice, it was Fontana’s aim to synthesise sound, colour, movement, time and space into a brand-new form of art.