Abstract art uses a visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Here is a list of selected abstract artists who have made a significant contribution to the evolution and development of Abstract art.
JMW Turner (1775-1851)
English painter whose avant-garde expressionism developed into abstraction.
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
American painter, noted for semi-abstract tonal paintings.
Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
His still lifes and landscapes are seen as important prototypes for abstraction.
Paul Serusier (1864-1927)
Leader of Les Nabis, influenced by Gauguin.
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
One of the earliest pioneers of geometric abstraction.
Georges Vantongerloo (1866-1965)
Belgian member of De Stijl, noted for his Elementarist painting.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
One of the pioneer colour-related abstract painters.
Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)
Used Cubist methods to imply religious feeling.
Frank Kupka (1871-1957)
Czech painter, “colour symphonist”, influenced by Futurism & Orphism.
Giacomo Balla (1871-1958)
Italian Futurist painter, fascinated by modern technology & movement.
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)
Geometric painter, member of De Stijl movement, inventor of Neo-Plasticism.
Bart Van Der Leck (1876-1958)
Utrecht artist/designer, one of founders of De Stijl.
Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)
One of the great early American modernists.
Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935)
A pioneer geometric abstractionist, inventor of Suprematism.
Louis Marcoussis (1878-1941)
Polish-French colourful Cubist painter, born Ludwig Markus.
Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Swiss fantasy artist.
Francis Picabia (1879-1953)
French painter with private income; Cubist, Dadaist, Surrealist.
Franz Marc (1880-1916)
Co-founder of Der Blaue Reiter. His animal images verge on abstraction.
Patrick Henry Bruce (1880-1937)
Friend of Delaunay, associated with the Synchromists style of abstraction.
Arthur Dove (1880-1946)
Painter/illustrator. His 1912 solo show was first showing of abstract art in US.
Hans Hofmann (1880-1966)
German-born painter, important pioneer of abstract expressionist painting.
Carlo Carra (1881-1966)
Famous for his early abstract Cubist/Futurist painting.
Albert Gleizes (1881-1953)
Cubist painter, co-writer of Du Cubisme, the first book on Cubism.
Fernand Leger (1881-1955)
Innovative French painter, noted for his “Tubism” & geometric abstraction.
Mikhail Larionov (1881-1964)
Co-inventor of Rayonism, launched at the Target Exhibition, Moscow, 1913.
Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962)
Larionov’s husband, co-founder of Rayonism (Luchism).
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Co-founder of Cubism. Virtuoso painter, master of abstract sculpture.
Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957)
Leader of British Vorticism movement.
Auguste Herbin (1882-1960)
French painter, a Bateau-Lavoir neighbour of Picasso.
Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Co-founder of analytical and synthetic Cubism; inventor of collage.
Mary Swanzy (1882-1978)
Considered by most art experts to be the first Irish Cubist.
Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931)
Leader of Dutch De Stijl group, inventor of term ‘concrete art’.
Morgan Russell (1883-1953)
American painter active in Paris, co-founder of Synchromism.
Jean Metzinger (1883-1957)
Inspired by analytical Cubism; published Du Cubisme with Albert Gleizes.
Gino Severini (1883-1966)
Italian Futurist painter, stayed faithful to Cubist rigour, interested in dance.
Roger de la Fresnaye (1885-1925)
Used Cubist geometric simplification to make a nationalistic statements.
Robert Delaunay (1885-1941)
French abstract painter, inventor of Orphism (Simultanism/Orphic Cubism).
Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953)
Founder of Constructivism, avant-garde painter in Neo-Primitivist style.
Andre Lhote (1885-1962)
Produced Cubist works filled with semi-geometric forms and interacting planes.
Sonia Delaunay-Turk (1885-1979)
Delaunay’s wife, known for her colourful abstraction.
Juan Gris (1887-1927)
Spanish painter, leading theorist of Cubism.
Jean Arp (1887-1966)
Abstract painter and one of the great organic abstract sculptors.
Johannes Itten (1888-1967)
Swiss geometric-style painter, noted for his exploration of colour.
Josef Albers (1888-1976)
Teacher at Bauhaus Design School; see his Homage to the Square series.
Lyubov Popova (1889-1924)
Leading exponent of Constructivism, known for her Painterly Architectonics.
Paul Nash (1889-1946)
Noted for his abstract surrealist imagery.
Bradley Walker Tomlin (1889-1953)
Abstract expressionist known for his huge grid-like works with inscriptions.
Willi Baumeister (1889-1955)
German painter noted for his late paintings, dubbed ‘abstract Surrealism.’
El Lissitzky (1890-1941)
Bauhaus, Suprematist painter, leading Constructivist, noted for geometric ‘Proun’ designs.
David Bomberg (1890-1957)
British abstract painter influenced by Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism.
Stanton MacDonald-Wright (1890-1973)
Co-founder of Synchromism, which like Orphism studied colour, light & music.
Mark Tobey (1890-1976)
Famous for his late abstraction, a mix of “action painting” and calligraphy.
Man Ray (1890-1977)
American avant-garde Dada/Surrealist artist, painter, photographer.
Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956)
Russian painter, leading Constructivist.
Joan Miro (1893-1983)
Famous for his abstract Surrealism.
Evie Hone (1894-1955)
One of the pioneer abstract artists in Ireland.
Stuart Davis (1894-1964)
Early American abstract painter; a Robert Henri pupil, exhibited Armory Show.
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)
Hungarian Constructivist painter, sculptor, designer; Bauhaus instructor.
Bram van Velde (1895-1981)
Dutch painter, noted for his existential, expressive abstract paintings.
Andre Masson (1896-1987)
French surrealist painter, acted as bridge to abstract expressionism.
Mainie Jellett (1897-1944)
Pioneer Irish Cubist painter; founder of Irish Exhibition of Living Art.
Jean Fautrier (1898-1964)
Famous for postwar ‘Hostages’ paintings, forerunners of Art Informel.
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Cartoonist and gouache painter; pioneer of Kinetic art (mobiles).
Konstantin Medunetsky (1899-1935)
Russian Constructivist artist, famous for his Colour Constructions.
Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
Italian artist, founder of Spatialism, noted for gashed monochrome paintings.
Yves Tanguy (1900-55)
French abstract surrealist noted for his strange lunar imagery.
Jean Dubuffet (1901-85)
Avant-garde painter, pioneer of Art Brut known also as Outsider Art.
Mark Rothko (1903-70)
American abstract painter, co-founder of Colour Field painting.
Adolph Gottlieb (1903-74)
American abstract expressionist, a founder of the Ten Group, New York.
Arshile Gorky (1904-48)
Armenian-born American abstract expressionist. Taught De Kooning & Rothko.
Jean Helion (1904-87)
French member of De Stijl; signed Doesburg’s Manifesto of Concrete Art.
Clyfford Still (1904-1980)
Co-founder with Rothko/Newman of Colour Field painting.
Hans Hartung (1904-89)
German-French painter, one of the pioneers of Art Informel.
Willem De Kooning (1904-97)
Noted for his gesturalist “Woman” paintings.
Jean Bazaine (1904-2001)
French Art Informel painter, leading exponent of Lyrical Abstraction.
Maurice Esteve (1904-2001)
Abstract painter of the Ecole de Paris; paintings have stained glass ‘glow’.
Jiro Yoshihara (1905-72)
Industrialist & self-taught painter; founded & funded Gutai Group.
Barnett Newman (1905-70)
Had huge influence on Post-Painterly Abstraction.
Serge Poliakoff (1906-69)
One of the leading abstract painters of the Ecole de Paris.
Victor Vasarely (1906-1997)
Painter, graphic designer; pioneer of kinetic art and founder of Op-Art.
Lee Krasner (1908-84)
Wife of Jackson Pollock, joint inventor of “action painting”.
Maria Helena Vieria da Silva (1908-92)
Portugese member of Art Informel movement, known for architectural imagery.
Max Bill (1908-94)
Swiss architect/artist, promoter of non-objective art.
Franz Kline (1910-1962)
Noted for huge stark black/white canvases & calligraphic-style brushstrokes.
Alfred Manessier (1911-93)
French painter, lithographer, tapestry designer; member of Art Informel.
Chilean surrealist painter, influenced by Yves Tanguy.
Morris Louis (1912-62)
American Minimalist, explored “colour stain painting” with Helen Frankenthaler.
Philip Guston (1913-80)
Took up abstraction when “action painting” appeared.
Nicholas Schoffer (1912-80)
Hungarian-born French painter, leading theorist of Kinetic art.
Agnes Martin (1912-2004)
Minimalist painter, noted for her pencilled grids on monochrome ground.
Jackson Pollock (1912-56)
Inventor of ‘action-painting’.
Wols – Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze (1913-51)
German Art Informel painter, Sartre’s illustrator, acclaimed after early death.
Ad Reinhardt (1913-67)
Known for his parallel red, blue, black rectangles.
Tony O’Malley (1913-2003)
Irish painter known for his colourful fantasy paintings of the Bahamas.
William Scott (1913-89)
Irish painter best known for his semi-abstract still lifes.
Nicolas de Stael (1914-1955)
Known for his Lyrical Abstraction.
Asger Jorn (1914-73)
Danish painter. Founder of abstract expressionist Cobra group.
Robert Motherwell (1915-91)
Famous for his Elegy to the Spanish Republic monochrome abstract paintings.
Jean Degottex (1918-88)
Calligraphy painter, noted for huge white monochrome paintings.
Pierre Soulages (b.1919)
French painter, one of leading exponents of Tachisme.
Patrick Heron (1920-99)
British abstract painter of the St Ives School, noted for his vibrancy of colour.
Karel Appel (1921-2006)
Dutch gesturalist; member of Cobra Group & Tachisme.
Georges Mathieu (1921-2012)
French painter, known as the ‘Salvador Dali of Art Informel’.
Jules Olitski (1922-2007)
Russian-American painter/sculptor; leading figure in Colour Field Painting.
Sam Francis (1923-1994)
American painter, member of Tachisme.
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-97)
Best known as comic-strip Pop Artist, he also produced several abstracts.
Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923-2002)
Leading Canadian abstract painter, active in Paris; member of Art Informel.
Jesus Raphael Soto (1923-2005)
Kinetic artist, noted for using dots to explore optical reflectivity.
Ellsworth Kelly (b.1923)
An exponent of Post Painterly Abstraction.
Antoni Tapies (b.1923)
Member of Catalan artist group Dau al Set; known for impastoed abstracts.
Ivan Picelj (b.1924)
Croatian geometrical abstract painter, leading figure in group EXAT-51.
Kenneth Noland (b.1924)
Minimalist painter associated with Hard Edge Painting, colour & structure.
Pierre Alechinsky (b.1927)
Belgian painter, noted for his expressive abstraction.
Yves Klein (1928-62)
Avant-garde artist, known for International Klein Blue (IKB) monochromes and his Anthropometry paintings.
Cy Twombly (1928-2011)
Minimalist painter known for his calligraphic scribbles.
Helen Frankenthaler (b.1928)
Minimalist painter, developed “colour stain painting” for diaphanous effects.
Jo Baer (b.1929)
American painter best known for her 1960s and 70s minimalism.
Antonio Saura (1930-98)
Spanish painter, founder of El Paso Group 1957; violent semi-abstract style.
Robert Ryman (b.1930)
American minimalist painter, noted for his white monochrome compositions.
Peter Sedgley (b.1930)
British painter, Op-artist, noted for his concentric rings of colour.
Richard Anuszkiewicz (b.1930)
American painter famous for his hallucinatory Op-art.
Bridget Riley (b.1931)
Leading figure in British Op-Art movement.
Richard Smith (b.1931)
British painter in New York, known for abstract Pop-Art & shaped canvas.
Frank Auerbach (b.1931)
British semi-abstract portraitist.
Gerhard Richter (b.1932)
Contemporary abstract painter associated with Neo-Expressionism.
Howard Hodgkin (b.1932)
English painter, Turner Prize Winner; noted for his colourful abstraction.
Frank Stella (b.1936)
Ex-abstract expressionist who went geometric after 1958.
Robert Mangold (b.1937)
American painter noted for his minimalist paintings and shaped canvas.
Brice Marden (b.1938)
One of the last abstract expressionists; noted also for his late gesturalism.
Georg Baselitz (b.1938)
Contemporary German painter, famous for his gesturalism & inverted subjects.
Anselm Kiefer (b.1945)
German neo-expressionist painter, known for textured historical abstracts.
Sean Scully (b.1945)
Irish-American painter, famous for large-size, geometric-style compositions.
Christopher Wool (b.1955)
New York painter best-known for his text-based word painting.