From the title of this article you might gather that these paintings are said to be the “Best” or “Most Famous” nonobjective paintings. They are actually very notable masterworks of some of the greatest nonobjective artists. I will admit to some bias in selecting these works and artists, but many experts will agree with my selections of both artists and paintings.
The top ten nonobjective paintings are not ranked, nor are they listed by date of production, alphabet nor any best criteria other than the Giselle Borzov order of research and selection in real time. Each painting has information with the artist’s name, title, medium and year of production, and a few characteristic quotes of the artist about painting in general.
Each of these nonobjective artists made historic strides in the world of art and they are all well represented in museums and galleries worldwide. Not every one of their paintings was a masterpiece, but many were. So selection of a work as best or top was not an easy task. I sometimes tried to select a work that was most characteristic of the artist’s main style. Since many of these artists were well received for a sequence of their developing styles that also made for another dimension of consideration.
Wasilly Kandinsky – “Yellow, Red, Blue” – Oil on canvas – 1925. “Abstract art places a new world, which on the surface has nothing to do with ‘reality, next to the real world.” “There is no must in art because art is free.”
Josef Albers – “Homage to the Square” – Oil on board – 1963. “I have also come to the conclusion that the square is a human invention, which makes it sympathetic to me. Because you don’t see it in nature. As we do not see squares in nature, I thought that it is man-made. But I have corrected myself. Because squares exist in salt crystals, our daily salt. We know this because we can see it in the microscope”.
Jackson Pollock – “Lavender Mist” – Oil on canvas – 1950. “It’s all a big game of construction, some with a brush, some with a shovel, some choose a pen.” “The method of painting is the natural growth out of a need. I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them.” “Every good painter paints what he is.”
Hans Hofmann – “The Golden Wall” – Oil on canvas – 1961. “When I paint, I paint under the dictate of feeling or sensing, and the outcome all the time is supposed to say something.” “Painters must speak through paint, not through words.” “It is not the form that dictates the color, but the color that brings out the form.”
Willem de Kooning – “Interchange” – Oil on canvas – 1955. “In art, one idea is as good as another. If one takes the idea of
trembling, for instance, all of a sudden most art starts to tremble. Michelangelo starts to tremble. El Greco starts to tremble. All the Impressionists start to tremble.” “Whatever an artist’s personal feelings are, as soon as an artist fills a certain area on the canvas or circumscribes it, he becomes historical. He acts from or upon other artists.” “The attitude that nature is chaotic and that the artist puts order into it is a very absurd point of view, I think. All that we can hope for is to put some order into ourselves.”
Robert Motherwell – “Reconciliation Elegy” – Acrylic on canvas – 1978. “It may be that the deep necessity of art is the examination of self-deception.” “It’s not that the creative act and the critical act are simultaneous. It’s more like you blurt something out and then analyze it.”
Antoni Tapies – “Creu I R” – Mixed Media on wood – 1975. “My wish is that we might progressively lose our confidence in what we think we believe and the things we consider stable and secure, in order to remind ourselves of the infinite number of things still waiting to be discovered.” “The artist has to make the viewer understand that his world is too narrow, he has to open up to new perspectives.”
Kenneth Noland – “April” – Acrylic on canvas – 1960. “Because of this the representation I’m interested in is of those things only the eye can touch.” “I think of painting without subject matter as music without words.”
Franz Kline – “C & O” – Oil on canvas – 1958. “The final test of a painting, theirs, mine, any other, is: does the painter’s emotions come across?” “Franz Kline If you’re a painter, you’re not alone. There’s no way to be alone.”
Mark Rothko – “No. 13 (White, Red on Yellow)” – Oil and Acrylic on canvas -1958. “It was with the utmost reluctance that I found the figure could not serve my purposes. But a time came when none of us could use the figure without mutilating it.” “The progression of a painter’s work as it travels in time from point to point, will be toward clarity – toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea – and the idea and the observer. To achieve this clarity is inevitably to be understood.” “Since my pictures are large, colorful and unframed, and since museum walls are usually immense and formidable, there is the danger that the pictures relate themselves as decorative areas to the walls. This would be a distortion of their meaning, since the pictures are intimate and intense, and are the opposite of what is decorative.” “I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.”
So there you have it, the Best Top Ten 10 Most Famous Nonobjective Paintings. I hope you enjoyed the images and the artists’ quotations.
- Giselle Borzov