Is Professional Abstract Art Still Distinguishable from Basic, Amateur Art?

A blank canvas, an assortment of geometric shapes, and even a painting splattered with random color could be considered art. But can a person identify and appreciate real abstract art or can the work of an amateur fool the eyes?

Below, there are four paintings: two are professional pieces of abstract art, while the other two are made by non-art students in less than an hour with basic art supplies. Ten people were interviewed and voted on which ones they believe were really abstract art and which ones were amateur.

Record which ones you think is real abstract art before scrolling down to see how many you get right!

Piece 1:

7 out of ten voted ABSTRACT

3 out of ten voted AMATEUR

Answer: Amateur--made by Mia Hermida, who is the assistant editor of the Focus Page

This painting is one of the most voted “Abstract” paintings. Looking at the artwork, it does portray a variety of abstract art elements. The comet-like object falling down and the square followed by watery, paint dripping tail tricked people into wondering if there is a deeper story to this painting.

One student, who wishes not to disclose their name, says, “It seems like an abstract art to me because the artist used different brush techniques. The bottom has some dry brush but in other places they drip water on the paint.”

Piece 2:

4 out of ten voted ABSTRACT

6 out of ten voted AMATEUR

Answer: Real abstract art, stock photo selling for $7.99

This vintage photo of a seemly simple painting may have fooled many who thought that it was student-made. Many students commented that the art piece seems really easy to make and too simple to be real art.

However, dripping paint is a common form of abstract art. The yellowish nature of the canvas also shows the old age of the painting, giving the viewer a clue that this painting is a professional art.

Piece 3:

4 out of ten voted ABSTRACT

6 out of ten voted AMATEUR

Answer: Real abstract art-- this contemporary art piece is made by Cy Twombly

This abstract painting may seem chaotic at first, but this collection of scribbles and paint is actually part of Twombly’s style.

One student commented, “It looks kinda like cave art, like something that even I can do.”

Others agree, saying that it looks like a bunch of scribbles that even a young child could do. Well, it may be true that a child could recreate this. Nevertheless, this freedom to express their feelings however they like is the beauty of abstract art.

Piece 4:

7 out of ten voted ABSTRACT

3 out of ten voted AMATEUR

Answer: Amateur- painted by Jennifer Long, another member of the Tartan Shield staff.

This painting was inspired by a famous abstract art by Lissitzky, which also only contained two squares.

One student commented saying, “I guess these art could come in any shape or form.”

It is true for the minimalistic painting that such a simple two-shaped design could be considered a form of abstract art. Many students commented that this simple painting, as contrasted by the chaotic nature of the previous one, gives the viewer a favorable feeling of calmness.

It seems that amateur artists have done a good job at faking the abstract style because many people voted that they are real abstract art. The results show a blurred definition of real abstract art: in this day and age, absolutely anything can be art.

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