The difference between abstract and realistic art is that abstract art lacks any meaningful form by just resembling a series of shapes, whereas the realism of realistic art portrays real people, objects, and places.

This article will explore the pros and cons of both types of art by thinking about how useful the different kinds of artwork are to today’s world.


Realistic Art

Before photography, art has been able to represent its subjects in a way that we can recognize. Such artwork that is realistic enough for us to identify where it is, who is depicted, and what they are doing, has provided a perfect historical record as if a photographic image was able to be taken. If abstract art had been used, we would have no idea looking at it now what the painting was telling those at the time, or more importantly, is telling us now.

The first photograph was not taken until 1826 when French scientist Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was able to capture the tilted view from his window at Le Gras. That was his family’s country home. Until then, we had to rely on artwork to capture history. Not that anyone then would have given much thought to the legacy they were leaving us. Thank goodness they did paint so realistically, and that the great masters existed.


The Science Behind Art

Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci have been skilled and knowledgeable enough to apply scientific principles to their art. Leonardo can be described as an Italian polymath in possessing a wide and complex knowledge as a result of learning, in-depth, many different subjects. It has only relatively recently come to light the full extent of Leonardo’s studies and what they have meant to his artwork. Two of Leonardo’s earliest paintings, which show scenes of the Annunciation, display his mastery of mechanical principles. It was also not only his knowledge of physiology and human anatomy that inspired Leonardo when he painted and drew, it was also deep studies that he had conducted into bats and birds when it came to devising his flying machine, or Ornithopter. This was a device that people strapped themselves into and then kept the wooden wings flat, to be able to stay aloft.


Independence and Escapism

Because abstract art uses the visual language of shapes to portray form, it creates compositions that can exist with independence. The final painting without a realist look can be seen as whatever you want it to represent. This can provide much escapism and take us into a different world far away from our own.

A branch of abstract painting then is anything to do with fantasy images. If they do not resemble anything that seems practical or possible, then they must be thought of as abstract, too.

With independence comes freedom from convention. The rebellious desire to break away from society’s convention in respect of how art should be represented is then evident. To not produce something that is expected, rather something unexpected is viewed as not the norm. There are a certain excitement and randomness about that. To not know what a painting will look like until it is finished is to be guided by inspiration. A known image will create the catalyst for inspiration, and then the mind is allowed to wander to finish it off to satisfaction.


In conclusion, if we want an accurate representation of the past, then we must request works of art that portray real things as they are. Conversely, if we are into escapism and desire our paintings to take us somewhere other than reality, then abstract art is for us. Either kind can look beautiful displayed. Generally, abstract art can be of brighter shades because it does not have to take into account how dull it might be outside when a landscape is painted. An obvious sign of a painting being abstract will be when the wheels on a car have deliberately been portrayed as square. Abstract art will have symbolism attached to it for us to work out. It can be difficult to get into the mind of an artist but there will always be a message behind abstract art. The message, however, behind realistic art is always going to be to represent what the eyes see as realistically as possible.