10 Abstract Artists to Know

Characterised by expressive and non-representative subject matter, abstract art developed during the 20th century. The use of colour and shapes are central to this movement, where focus is placed not on the purpose of the motif but rather the shape of it. Artsper invites you to discover 10 of the best abstract artists.

Gerhard Richter, art abstrait
Gerhard Richter, Abstract Painting (946-3), 2016

1. Gerhard Richter

German artist, Gerhard Richter, is one of the most expensive artists on the market. His technique is very varied and is known for his photo-paintings. His approach to abstraction is gradual, where he explores acid tones, sharp forms and large, flat plains of colour.

Zao Wou-Ki
Zao Wou-Ki, Untitled, 1969)

2. Zao Wou Ki

Zao Wou Ki is also one of the most expensive contemporary artists. With a recent exhibition dedicated to the artist at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, he is an important figure worldwide. His bright, calm and monumental works have a profoundly soothing effect on the viewer.

Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly, Untitled (Bacchus), 2008

3. Cy Twombly

Edwin Parker Twombly Jr., aka Cy Twombly, is an American artist whose work is full of historical references. Twombly’s works are deeply intellectual and complex. Elements of graffiti, scratches, iconography and figures explode from his canvas, which he completes in pastels and colour.

Julie Mehretu
Julie Mehretu, Congress, (2003)

4. Julie Mehretu

American-Ethiopian artist, Julie Mehretu, is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery. Not only was she the winner of the prestigious MacArthur Award, she is also exhibited in the permanent collections of MoMA. Her paintings explore carefully constructed angles, shapes and colours, and sell for astronomical prices.

John Olsen, abstrait
John Olsen, Darlinghurst Cats, (2018)

5. John Olsen

Australian artist, John Olsen, won the Archibald Prize in 2005. According to Olsen landscape is his preferred theme, however, despite nature’s influence his works remain very abstract. Whirlpools of lively colours and abstract shapes fill his canvas, reflecting the artist’s preference to “feel” the landscape, as opposed to depict it in a classical sense.

Jean-Marc Bustamante
Jean-Marc Bustamante, Cardinal, (2010)

6. Jean-Marc Bustamante

Former professor and then director of the Beaux-Arts school in Paris, French artist, Jean-Marc Bustamane, is represented by the Thaddaeus Ropac gallery. He also represented France at the Venice Biennale in 2003. His works are characterised by a constant exchange between painting, sculpture and photography.

John M Armleder
John M Armleder, Challenger, (2016)

7. John Armleder

Swiss artist, John Armleder’s work, is so rich and diverse that it is hard to summarise. He utilises performance, video, painting and even Readymades; still managing to maintain a sense of unity in each piece. His abstract canvases are characterised by spots or streaks of colour, which often run down the canvas.

Frank Stella
Frank Stella, Harran II, (1967)

8. Frank Stella

American painter, Frank Stella, is one of the best known practitioners of Op Art. The inventor of “Shaped Canvases” (or cut-out canvases), his works are defined by an external form corresponding to the interior motif. The colour-form relationship is at the centre of his artistic approach. Artist, Carl Andre, claims “Frank Stella is not interested in expression or sensitivity. He is interested in the necessities of painting.”

Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell, Bracket, (1989).

9. Joan Mitchell

American artist, Joan Mitchell, is famous for her grand gesture paintings. Completed on a large format, her lively, acidic-coloured works, represent the second generation of Abstract Expressionism. Mitchell’s strong emotional charge radiates from her works, which was possibly inspired by her relationship with Jean-Paul Riopelle, whom she followed to France.

Christian Bonnefoi
Christian Bonnefoi, Composition Zulma, (2017)

10. Christian Bonnefoi

French artist, Christian Bonnefoi, explores collage in his works. His compositions explore alternative means of filling a canvas, and reject simplistic squared forms.  His approach to his work is characterised by gestures, the intention behind the work, and the subject matter; which are considered artistic techniques in their own right.

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