What Is Abstract Photography

Abstract art and abstract photography art are relatively new but well-established styles of modern and contemporary art. Abstraction in photography is a stark departure from documentary-style photography or hyper-realism. Read on to learn more about abstract photography, including its inspiration, origins, and purpose.

Abstract Photography Definition

It isn’t easy to define abstract photography or abstract artworks in general. Abstract photography is conceived or imagined outside of the common perception of reality. A wide variety of subject matter could inspire abstract photography. Abstract photographs can make us pause for thought, or take us out of our comfort zones to other realms, even make us question what we are seeing.

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Realistic or “traditional” photography is often a literal depiction of the world, but abstract photography is the complete opposite. As with all abstract artworks, abstract photography has no single definition. 

An art critic or viewer doesn’t need to “get” an abstract artwork or try to “figure it out.” Abstract photography aims to evoke feelings and stimulate thought. The meaning of abstract artwork can be interpreted differently by each viewer.

Different art movements and artists have experimented with varying levels of abstraction. Some abstract artists will create works that are still somewhat representative, while others move into pure abstraction.

When looking at abstract photography, you will find that there aren’t the usual common frames of reference. The viewer will often discover that they aren’t looking at anything which is immediately recognizable. 

Abstract artworks often lack a commonly understood context. Therefore, they are difficult to evaluate by the traditional art standards. This lack of context is one of the reasons that abstract photography is so enthralling but equally challenging for some audiences to understand or appreciate.

Famous Abstract Photographers

There are many well-known and respected abstract photographers, these include artists such as Ola Kolehmainen, Harry Callahan, Angie McMonigal, Jackie Ranken, Frances Seward, Matthieu Venot, Alexander Jacques, Andrew S. Gray, and many others.

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What Is Abstract Landscape Photography?

Landscape photography is a style of artwork that focuses on capturing beautiful or harsh landscapes, nature, and the outdoors to bring the viewer into the scene. 

But if abstract photography is non-representational, then what is abstract landscape photography? We can define abstract landscape photography as partially abstract or semi-representational.

Abstract landscape photography retains some basis in reality and is usually vaguely recognizable as a depiction of a landscape. However, the objective of abstract photographic landscapes is to present a landscape in a new way that is unique to each artist. 

This depiction of the landscape is completely different from how a human eye perceives the landscape or how it would look in a typical travel snapshot.

What Is Nature Abstract Photography?

Abstract nature photography is another style of semi-abstract photography. Abstract nature images use reality and nature as their basis but present it in a unique way that highlights unusual details. 

sn what is abstract photography pictureWhile abstract nature photography captures reality, it can do so in a way that makes the original subject completely unrecognizable and detached from reality. That doesn’t mean abstract nature photography is unclear or blurry. It is often sharp, bright, textured, and clear, but it does not aim to create a representation of something in nature that we all recognize. 

Nature photography may be an extreme close-up, unusual angle, or long-distance aerial shot that captures nature in a completely new way. This unique view is what makes abstract photography so intriguing.

What Is Abstract Expressionism in Photography?

Abstract expressionism was one of the major art movements of the 20th century and abstract expressionist photography is a sub-category within this wider art movement. This style of artwork moved almost entirely away from representational art or the semi-abstract styles of earlier styles. Abstract expressionism is one of the first completely abstract styles of art. 

The abstract expressionist movement in the 1940s and 1950s was defined by two schools, the German expressionists, and the American Expressionists. American expressionists included the well-known artists and painters Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. 

The abstract expressionist movement was characterized by gestural brushstrokes, splashes of paint, or spontaneous mark-making in paintings. While the painters of this period have become household names, abstract expressionism styles can also be seen in photography.

Abstract expressions were a largely non-figurative school of art. This movement took inspiration from the philosophy of Existentialism, believing that the process of creating art was more important than the final artwork.  

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Abstract expressionism photography focuses on the abstract composition of shapes. These non-representational shapes are integrated into an image using positive and negative forms instead of rendering a recognizable subject matter. 

Famous abstract expressionist photographers include Aaron Siskind, Cy Twombly, Richard Pousette-Dart, and many others. Like many modernist art movements, abstract expressionist painters were inspired by creative abstract photographers, while the abstract painters, in turn, inspired photographers. Many artists of this period created both photographic and painted works. 

What Is Creative Abstract Photography?

Creative abstract photography is a style of photography that expresses ideas and emotions through a photographed image. Creative abstract photography does not merely capture a scene. Instead, it utilizes techniques more often seen in paintings, such as composition, emotions, subtraction, balance, subtlety, zoom, blur, texture, and of course, lighting. 

For example, if a creative photographer zooms in on a surface texture, they can isolate it from any context. It’s unclear where the texture comes from or what it is. The viewer then forgets to think about what the image captures and starts to wonder and imagine how the surface texture feels.

One of the most interesting things about abstract art is that it is open to interpretation. Abstract photography lacks a commonly understood anchor, so each viewer perceives an artwork uniquely. 

This view allows room for an uninhibited association. Because abstract art is, by definition, detached from concrete reality, the viewer is allowed to create your own narrative and meaning from each work.

Buying Abstract Photography 

Many people enjoy collecting, viewing, and displaying abstract artworks. You can explore abstract art in museums and art galleries or find fine photography for sale in online art galleries of crypto art marketplaces.


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