Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist complete or a degree of independence from physical visual references in the world around us. From the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, Western art had been, based upon a foundation of perspective and an attempt to reproduce an illusion, whether realistically or through some form of impressionistic or expressionistic variation of the visible reality.
By the end of the 19th century, many artists felt the need to create a new kind of art which would encompass the fundamental changes taking place in society through advancements in technology, science and philosophy. The sources from which these individual artists redrew their perspectives were diverse, and, as such, reflected the social and intellectual shifts throughout most facets of Western culture at that time.
The term “abstraction” indicates a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art. This departure from accurate representation can be only slight, or it can be partial, or it can be complete. Thus Abstract art exists within a broad spectrum of artistic forms overlapping Expressionism and other artistic disciplines.
Even art that aims for realism of the highest order, one can argue to be abstract, at least in theory, since perfect representation is likely to be exceedingly elusive. Artwork which takes liberties, altering for instance color and form in ways that are conspicuous, can be said to be partially abstract. Total abstraction bears no trace of any reference to anything recognizable. In geometric abstraction, for example, one is unlikely to discover references within our visible world. Figurative art and total abstraction are almost mutually exclusive while figurative and representational and realistic art cab often contains some degree of abstraction.