Difference Between Abstract Art And Realistic Art

For a long time, artists have been following two significant types of painting methods, realistic and abstract. Many famous artists adopted either one of these styles, which became their identity.

On the one hand, you have artists such as Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock, Wassily Kandinsky, and Pablo Picasso, to name a few, who enthralled the world with their abstract art. On the other, you have Edouard Manet, Adolph Von Menzel, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Gustave Courbet, who focused on everyday life, humans, nature, and their surroundings and portrayed them with accurate details.

You might get confused about the terms abstract art and realistic art and not understand the differences between them. Well, here is a guide that explains these two major forms of paintings.

Image Source: Wikipedia

What Is Abstract Art?

Abstract art uses shapes, colors, forms, and gestures to create a visual composition rather than portraying an actual depiction of visual reality. But, realistically speaking, this perplexing art form is hard to define. Many still wonder, ‘Is abstract art really ‘art’ at all?’ ‘Can this particular artwork be defined as ‘abstract’ art?’ or ‘Is this painting even an ‘art’?’

Swirling shapes, colorful patterns, splattered colors, uneven brush strokes are some of the common elements of abstract art. Understanding abstract art can be easy or difficult and varies from person to person. Since abstract art is subjective and open to imagination, the feelings invoked by a painting in one person can be extremely different from another.

Abstract art can be asserted back to cave and rock paintings that depicted figures, geometric shapes, and patterns. However, the first signs of modern-day abstract art can be traced back to Romanticism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, and Spiritualist art. The famous painter Wassily Kandinsky is considered to be the father and pioneer of abstract art that we know today.

Some Famous Abstract Artists And Their Arts

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky was the first person to push into pure abstract art and is considered a pioneer in the field of abstract art. According to him, abstract art was “art independent of one’s observations of the external world.” Some of the famous paintings of Wassily Kandinsky include Several Circles, Yellow Red Blue, Squares with Concentric Rings, and Composition VIII.

Piet Mondrain

Piet Mondrain

Piet Mondrain is an iconic figure in the abstract art world. His paintings are heavily influenced by Post-Impressionism, and the mere mention of his name reminds one of the iconic geometric shapes and bold, black lines his artwork is famous for. Some of his famous artwork includes the Broadway Boogie Woogie, New York City I, and Composition A.

Jackson Pollock

What is Realistic Art

Jackson Pollock was one of the finest abstract painters in America and achieved fame and stardom for his artwork in the 1940s and 50’s. His pouring or ‘drip technique’ was his iconic trademark style, which led to the creation of many famous artworks. Some of his notable work includes Number 17A, The Deep, and Autumn Rhythm.

What is Realistic Art?

Gustave Courbet

Realistic art or realism/naturalism in art refers to a painting style that represents a real object truthfully without any manipulation to the scene or adding any unnatural elements. Many people believe this form of painting as ‘true art.’

The realistic painting movement’s roots can be traced back to the 1800s. The movement began as a response to Romanticism and History painting. The paintings depicted regular, ordinary working people engrossed in their daily activities.

Since then, realistic art has been the dominant style of painting, preferred by both the artists and admirers. Most of the renowned paintings follow the realistic style of painting, including arguably the most popular painting, The Mona Lisa.

Some Famous Realistic Artists And Their Arts

Gustave Courbet

Gustave Courbet is considered the leading artist of the Realism movement of the 19th century. His artwork captured landscapes, hunting scenes, nudes, and still life. Some notable artworks include The Origin of The World, Le Sommeil, and Stonebreakers.

Jean-François Millet

Jean-François Millet

Jean-François Millet is considered one of the most important figures for modern realistic art. His paintings centered around the theme of farmers due to him growing up in a farm environment. He is also well-known for creating majestic, pure landscapes. Some of the popular works of the artist include The Gleaners, Angelus, and Dandelions.


The two art forms are very distinctive and may even seem completely opposite. Realism is all about replicating real-world objects onto a canvas capturing the smallest details. In contrast, abstract art is creating something unique and unrecognizable and can be interpreted differently by different individuals. As art connoisseurs, we can appreciate both the art forms rather than debating which art form is better than the other.

If you would like to purchase abstract and art paintings online, you can check out https://www.1st-art-gallery.com, which is the world’s largest supplier of made-to-order oil paintings. You can buy artwork of your favorite artist in a safe, secure manner and even get custom artworks done.