The tendency of the separation of art from the image of reality received a logical conclusion in the works of abstract artists. Their work was distinguished by a complete lack of plot and composition. Abstract art is considered one of the most complex phenomena of modern culture, since it completely excludes ideological content and figurative form.
A new direction in art was named from the Latin word abstractus, which means “abstract”. The canvases, made in an abstract style, were not popular with the masses, because the paintings, randomly filled with spots and lines, are quite difficult to understand. The quality of such work is practically not evaluable. Theorist of abstract art, Michel Seyfor, defines this direction in this way: “I call abstract any art that does not contain any reminder, no idea of reality.”
In the late 1940s, lyrical or romantic abstractionism spread in Europe. The characteristic features of the new trend are pronounced in the works of the German painter Wols.
The painting “Felix”, praised by critics, depicted the double, combined eyes and wings of a monstrous bird. Refined vision, blurred by streaks of red, blue, violet and gray colors, evoked various associations in the viewer. In the canvases of abstract art of that time, there is a lack of control over the creative process. One gets the impression that the artist makes senseless brush strokes on the canvas, he changes his “technique”, using everything that can bring him an impressive effect.
As a result of small efforts on the canvas, a kaleidoscope of rectangles was obtained that differed from each other only in color. The yellow, red, violet and black figures were separated by thick paint that emerged from under the palette knife. Smears formed a plane of regular shape. This completely exhausted the essence of the work.
American abstract artist Ed Reinhardt was a recognized master of the latest wave of abstract minimalism. Often changing manner and style, he sought to deprive his paintings of drawing, color, composition and even traces of brush touch. His work is a vivid example of minimalism with works that are not of aesthetic value. In 1953, Reinhardt created a kind of canvas, where he absolutely symmetrically depicted the Latin letter “H” in iridescent shades of blue-green.
Subsequent canvases of this painter become darker and darker. The artist has a playful aphorism: “It is not so easy to see what you see.” His works of recent years at first glance seem simply black. However, peering intently at the canvases, one can notice a barely perceptible cross or other form, written in alternating muted colors. Evaluating the works of Reinhardt, critics noted: “… the dark palette of his paintings evokes the feeling that the artist simply turned off the light.”
Having lost their graphic forms, the paintings of abstract artists became the “receipt of the master on the canvas”, revealing only the nature of his emphasis. Often the works were a visual set of signs and hieroglyphs. So another kind of fine art arose – abstract calligraphy. A striking representative of this style was a German artist of French origin Hans Hartung. At the beginning of his career, he was fond of expressionism. In the twenties, when he first painted abstract watercolors, he did not leave this occupation until the end of his life. For the first time after World War II, Hartung “invented” calligraphy, which brought him popularity.
In the painting “Pastel P”, written in a clear calligraphic style, the author invented the curves of intersecting lines, made like a stroke of a pen, on a gray-blue background. A different kind of calligraphy is represented by the painting “Painting”. Several dark strokes on a dark gray-violet background resemble bird feathers.
The most unusual artist who worked in the style of a pictorial gesture and calligraphy was Georges Mathieu. He masterfully threw colored spots on the canvas, dots, commas and other signs resembling hieroglyphs.