What I look for in Abstract Art

Abstract art. Strange images of lines, blobs, fields, and whatever. Some people love it, some people hate it, and I would like to say no one really understands it. Even a lot of artists who make abstract art don’t claim to understand it. It could be highly symbolic, like Aquarium by MAGIC.


Some have no significance outside of themselves, like these pieces by Shawn Wolter.IMG_2972

As an amateur art collector, what do I look for in abstract art? First, color. If the colors catch my eye, I am much more likely to buy the piece. I particularly like contrasting colors like the red, black, and white on the piece above. I will admit that I tend to buy particular colors. My walls are like a palette, just like an artist might have. If I don’t like the color, I won’t buy it, even if I like the imagery.

Second, depth. The shininess of Aquarium made a big impression on me, particularly with the flatness of the black and blue on the piece. The random lines contrasting with the different shades of white on the Wolter piece on the left draw my eye. I am a fan of Rothko and his color field paintings because of the interplay of the colors involved in the pieces.

Third, composition. How are the elements arranged on the piece. Are they interesting? Do I connect with it in an emotional way? Are the shapes interesting enough that I can look at it over and over and still be entranced? Do they symbolize anything to me? What was the intention of the artist? Do I agree?

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because the art is simple it was not difficult to make. Believe me, it isn’t easy to make paint scribbles look good. It also isn’t easy to make color fields have depth and interest.

As with any art, you have to connect to it on an emotional and intellectual level. Look carefully at the art in the shows you attend. Talk to the artists about their techniques and why they do what they do. If they mention an inspiration or another artist that they admire, go look them up. It makes looking at blobs more interesting than you can imagine.


Who Can Successfully Collect Art?

People often assume that I must make a lot of money to have a hobby like collecting art. Believe me, that is not the case. I thought this video was a great example of what you can do with a limited budget.

Of course, the most amazing example of people who developed an incredible collection is Dorothy and Herb Vogel. If you haven’t seen the documentary Herb and Dorothy (which is on Netflix), I recommend seeing it.