Abstract art is now generally understood to mean art that does not depict objects in the natural world, but instead uses colour and form in a non-representational way. In the very early 20th century, the term was more often used to describe art, such as Cubist and Futurist art, that depicts real forms in a simplified or rather reduced way keeping only an allusion of the original natural subject. Such paintings were often claimed to capture something of the depicted objects' immutable intrinsic qualities rather than its external appearance. (See abstraction.) The more precise terms, "non-figurative art," "non-objective art," and "non-representational art" avoid any possible ambiguity.
Wassily Kandinsky, On White 2, 1923
Non-objective art is not an invention of the 20th century humans have made non-objective art since they first drew pictures in the dirt. In the Islamic religion the depiction of humans is not allowed, and consequently the Islamic culture developed a high standard of decorative arts. Calligraphy is also a form of non-figurative art. Abstract designs have also existed in Western culture in many contexts. However, Abstract art is distinct from pattern-making in design, since it draws on the distinction between decorative art and fine art, in which a painting is an object of thoughtful contemplation in its own right.
Constructivism (1915) and De Stijl (1917) were parallel movements which took abstraction into the three dimensions of sculpture and architecture. The Constructivists believed that the artist's work was a revolutionary activity, to express the aspirations of the people, using machine production, graphic and photographic means of communication. Some of the American Abstract expressionists are purely abstract and include: Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and Hans Hofmann although they were at times inspired by myth, figuration, architecture, and nature. Op Art (1962) and Minimalism (1965) were two recent idioms.
* Abstract expressionism
* Action painting
* Art history
* Art periods
* De Stijl
* Geometric abstraction
* History of painting
* Lyrical Abstraction
* Western painting
* Piet (programming language), an esoteric programming language whose programs are bitmaps that look like abstract art, named after the Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian
* Scientific inquiry in modern art