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Abstract art, when is it a good work of art?

Some “good” abstract works do nothing for me. But other works do touch me again. The list below is therefore not necessarily about taste. But it is more of a short checklist that you can use to analyze a work of art.

1. Consistency

This refers to the coherence within a painting and the of an artist’s portfolio. Consistency is important in one work, the work must be in balance, finished in the same way everywhere and the lines and shapes must appear planned. An artist’s portfolio must also be in balance. If it is incoherent; nice work here and there but sometimes also of mediocre quality, can you say something about the artist’s development or that he / she does not know very well what he is doing.

See how Atlas of the Ocean collection forms a whole and tells a story together.

2. Color

You can tell from the use of colors if an artist knows what he or she is doing. Colors that do not match well are a first indication that the artist is not yet so trained. It is possible that an artist deliberately puts a bold combination on the canvas. In that case you should be able to see this clearly.

3. Texture

Usually abstract art is composed of several layers. These layers create depth in the work. Layers can also be visual. There are often parts that instinctively come more to the foreground and other parts that move more to the background. This must be balanced.

4. Composition

A good work (abstract and figurative) has a good composition. Composition means the way in which the parts, lines, colors, surfaces on the canvas are arranged. A work must be balanced in a certain way. A work also has a point of attention that draws your eye. Then, visually, the composition must be introduced.

5. Meaning

All good art has a meaning or an idea. The artist represents an emotion, thought or idea. This can be positive or negative. The artist has thought about and made specific choices. If it is made randomly and without a plan, the work often gives a chaotic impression. It has no personality.

Barnett Newman’s Cathedra; one of my favorite works (Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Made in 1951)

5. Complexity

An artist grows and always learns. You often see that an artist works in a series, and that the work develops over time. New techniques are being tried and added. This affects the new works. You might think that you can easily copy a work, but a trained artist has tried all different techniques for years and knows how to do something in a certain way. It seems easy but it is difficult to copy these techniques without this exercise.

6. Comfort

Paint streaks that look awkward or clumsy immediately tell you that an artist is an amateur. An experienced artist is confident and creates every work with an intention. A paint splatter may look arbitrary, but a professional artist knows why he / she puts it there … or removes it. They sometimes say: an experienced artist paints the way he / she wants, and an untrained artist paints the way he / she can.

People have different ideas about abstract art. Sometimes I hear that they enjoy discovering something in it. Others may not have the patience or interest to take the time to do so.
Sometimes people think they can make it themselves, and then you have the artist who knows how much time has been spent in a work but often wisely keeps his mouth shut.

What do you think?

What do you think of abstract art? Did you get a better picture of abstract art through this list or do you still find it complicated or not beautiful (because that is of course also allowed!)

Do you want to know more about me or my art?  Click here to contact me and/or to plan a studio visit in my artstudio in Breda, the Netherlands.

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