6 Great Abstract Artists You Shouldn’t Ignore

By in Art And Culture, Artwork


7 comments

Painting may be the artistic medium that has been declared ‘dead’ more times than any other, but for as long as there exists some kind of paint, some kind of painting surface and some kind of human being to bring the two together, there will always be some kind of painters – with abstract painters likely to be at the forefront of those.

Abstraction, too, is another concept that has been subjected to many an existential crisis, but it also continues to find ways to renew itself – as the following six artists help to show.

Katy Moran

Even including the Manchurian Royal College of Art graduate in this list may seem to do her a disservice, given her own declaration that “I see my paintings as representational and this is why they work for me. It’s been a strange novelty for me to be called an abstract painter, because my concerns have always been that of a figurative painter.”

Katy Moran, Joe's in Town, 2012

Katy Moran, Joe’s in Town (Image via Flickr used under CC)

Indeed, it may be the comfort with which her seemingly intuitive, but actually intricately-planned paintings bridge the gap between the abstract and figurative that has much to do with her strong following among collectors since she was declared one of the Top 25 London MA graduates by ArtReview magazine in July 2006.

www.andrearosengallery.com/artists/katy-moran

Math Bass

In an art world where many seem to have accepted true creative originality as a now-impossible ideal, the Los Angeles-based artist Math Bass appears to have genuinely achieved it. Her flat-rendered geometric abstractions, consisting of simple shapes, have a certain poetic ambiguity that encourages viewers to impose their own subjective interpretations.

Her Newz! paintings have been a focal point of such an approach, prompting Frieze magazine writer Dan Fox to ask: “Should we be reading these motifs as some form of hieroglyphic language – a pictographic message from an alien intelligence?”

William Tillyer

Despite being widely admired, exhibited and collected internationally since 1970, the Middlesbrough-born and educated artist – later a student at Slade School of Art under the likes of Sir William Coldstream and Anthony Gross – remains something of a quiet man of the art world.

William Tillyer 69 2 Trellis II (Image via Flickr used under CC)

William Tillyer, 69.2 Trellis II (Image via Flickr used under CC)

Nonetheless, Tillyer continues to stimulate with his radical studies often questioning the relationship between man and nature. For all of the sublime colour and brushstrokes that frequently make up his works, however, he has also long resisted any pressure to establish a consistent ‘brand image’.

www.tillyer.com

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung

 

For evidence that even in the seemingly thoroughly well-trodden territory of abstract painting, it is still possible to find fresh and exciting modes of expression, one only needs to look to this emerging Chicago-based artist.

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, The Impossible (Image via Flickr used under CC)

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, The Impossible
(Image via Flickr used under CC)

Zuckerman-Hartung has gained rapid renown for canvasses that make the actual painted surface a mere starting point, with the likes of enamel, fabric,the frame and other collaged elements all key fixtures in her highly layered pieces.

www.mollyzuckermanhartung.com

 

Cecily Brown

The tactility and lusciousness of the London-born Cecily Brown’s handling of paint certainly conjure up sexual and erotic associations, and sure enough, these are also key themes in her work that, like that of several other artists in this list, straddles the line between figuration and abstraction.

Various expressive figures and nudes surface in Brown’s works, sometimes engaged in discernible copulation. However, her works also consider the wider breadth of human experience, and bring to mind key figures in the history of painting – from Paolo Veronese and Sir Peter Paul Rubens to Philip Guston and Willem de Kooning.

www.gagosian.com/artists/cecily-brown

 

Frank Auerbach

Auerbach’s inclusion in this list really does stretch the definition of ‘abstract painter’ – he is admittedly better described as a figurative painter nonetheless capable of creating some of the most remarkable near-abstract images of any British artist this side of World War II.

Frank Auerbach, Head of EOW IV (Image via Flickr used under CC)

Frank Auerbach, Head of EOW IV
(Image via Flickr used under CC)

The German-born painter’s status as one of his adoptive country’s greatest living artists has been only further affirmed by his recent high-profile exhibition at Tate Britain. Running until 13th March this year, the exhibition has given a new generation of artists an opportunity to survey his career through direct experience and appreciation of his entrancingly in-depth and highly textural paintings.

With such painters as the above demonstrating the full breadth of forms that abstract painting can take today – even if some of them deny the ‘abstract’ label at all – it is clear that this field of artistic endeavour remains alive and well. Use these artists as your inspirational starting points for your own abstract painted experimentation and explorations in 2016!

7 comments for “6 Great Abstract Artists You Shouldn’t Ignore

nicksplashmoore@hotmail.com

March 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm

since when have Cecily Brown and Frank Auerbach, the latter undoubtedly a great painter, been abstract painters????

Gavin Lenaghan

March 18, 2016 at 12:44 pm

The idea was to explore the full breadth of what could be called ‘abstract painting’, including those artists that could be better described as figurative painters using abstract elements (which I think would describe Brown and Auerbach). Apologies, maybe I should have made that clearer. :-)

  • Harold Garde

    April 15, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I am not at all sure that I do want to clear things up, and make work easier to label (and thereby dismiss), but here goes.
    No matter how literal a rendering of the artist’s subject, it is an abstraction, Selecting of the two dimensions with the intent of suggestion the third.
    At the other end, there is the whole range of visual art that is non-figurative, and could or should be labeled as such.
    The game that intrigues me is this: how and why do I make or view any work, and most particularly the non-figurative, to gain an emotional response?
    Harold Garde

    Just Add Colour

    May 30, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Although each artist has great sense of art but I like william tyller painting. His Painting has a meaning and lesson to everyone that took my attention and that’s how the artist should be.

    Stuart Wright

    June 15, 2016 at 10:23 am

    nice article , i had`nt heard of Frank Auerbach before

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    x

    Just for Artists

    Join thousands of artists who subscribe to The Artists Newsletter.

    Send me Free Art & Money Guide

    Just wanted to say what a fantastic support/info system you run. I've just read the newsletter regarding image copyright law and it's very informative... thanks!"
    - Michele Wallington