The Best Abstract Artists of the 21st Century

The Best Abstract Artists of the 21st Century


Abstract art was first developed in the early 1900s by the Russian artist, Wassily Kandinsky whose painting focused on color, shapes and brushstrokes instead of depictions of objects found in the natural world. He believed that color evokes emotion and even assigned specific emotions to different colors. He is most likely the foremost influence in the work of Abstract Expressionism artists of the twenty-first century.

Abstract art came into vogue after World War II. It was a primarily American movement, which elevated New York City to a position in the art world that rivaled Paris. Out of this movement came such abstract artists as Michael Goldberg, Marc Rothko and Paul Klee.

Michael Goldberg was an important mid-century abstract artist of the New York style.  He developed a method which involved pressing oil sticks directly on the canvas and preferred this over using brushes to apply paint. At first, he never expected to make a living by selling his art; he created it for his own enjoyment. That expectation changed when renowned art collector, Walter P, Chrysler purchased $10,000 of his work. Michael was a friend of another important influence of Abstract Expressionism, Marc Rothko.

Marc Rothko was born in Russia, to Jewish parents who immigrated to America in 1910. He rose to prominence in the 1950s among the New York School painters. Although his compositions were often simple, differently colored rectangular forms, he insisted that they represented mythological ideals and evoked strong, primal human emotions.

Although he lived in Europe, Paul Klee’s work had an enormous impact on the Abstract Expressionism movement in America.  Nearly every abstract artist can trace either theory or technique back to Klee. His philosophy was transcendentalism, which focused on realities beyond the material world. This could be considered a working definition of abstract art itself. He incorporated into his work his ideal of simple, natural line drawing, while striving for an untutored style.

In the twenty-first century, a new generation of artists is creating a revival in the popularity of abstract art and abstract expressionism. With the geo-political challenges of a post-Soviet bloc world coupled with the rise and fall of emerging economies, abstract art once again expresses the hope and despair felt by many individuals. In our increasingly technical world, abstract artists provide a refreshing return to true texture, color and form.

Modern abstract paintings stay true to their roots by expressing deeper meaning and emotion through abstract rather than representational forms. The abstract artist depicts common philosophies about good and evil, yin and yang through geometric forms and color contrast. This form of art demands a thoughtful response from its audience.

The best abstract artists of the 21st century are no longer limited to America and Europe. Artists like Vikram Dayal, from India represent the Asian influence which is coming of age in abstract painting.  Inspired by Picasso, modern Latino artists, like Ruth Gonzales are gaining influence through their abstract painting of surreal landscapes and other forms of abstract expressionism. African artists like Bobby Slingsby, draw from their primal surroundings by imitating the simplistic forms of cave drawings as well as the geometric pattern of native clothing to use in their abstract paintings.

With its global reach, abstract expressionism will continue to rise in popularity. Abstract paintings continue to find their audience and express important social issues. Urban American painters such as Norman Lewis use their abstract paintings to expose social injustice and oppression through titles consistent with urban experience. Abstract paintings are an important expression in every culture and century. It gives voice to the hope and despair common to every member of our human family.





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