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Abstract Photography

Abstract photography, also sometimes known as experimental photography, is the art of creating a visual effect with an image that has no immediate attachment to reality, by using processes like focusing, framing, or retouching and editing the photograph in post-processing. For example, an abstract picture can sometimes isolate a fragment of an ordinary image to remove it from its original context and give it a surrealist edge. It can also involve playing with blurring, shadows or lighting, textures or unexpected forms. The image is often created with traditional photographic material (analog or digital cameras, dark room, computer). However, artists can also manipulate and alter the film in order to achieve the desired effect.

The first images known as “abstract photographs" appeared shortly after the invention of photography in the 1830s. In 1842, John William Draper created a new type of images with a spectroscope. This machine dispersed light beams and produced a phenomenon that was previously invisible to the eye. The negatives he produced had nothing in common with the works of other photographers, and they opened the way for innovative photographic works. Draper perceived these images as a scientific discovery, not as artworks, but today his method is widely acclaimed by critics for its inherent originality.

In England, Anna Atkins was also a pioneer of abstract photography; she was the first one to place dry algae on cyanotype paper. This scientific experiment improved photographic techniques by creating unique blue and white images. Moreover, the discovery of X-ray and radioactivity in 1896 provoked a fascination for the invisible and many photographers were immediately drawn to these phenomena. French photographer Louis Darget attempted to capture mental processes by pressing unexposed plates to the foreheads of his and trying to get them to project images from their minds onto the plates. He carried out thousands of similar experiments.

It was only during the 20th century that abstract photography truly became recognised as an artistic practice. Surrealism and cubism started replacing impressionism, especially after the Salon d'Automne in 1903 in Paris. This event highlighted new talents like Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp… Ten years later, in New York, Wassily Kandinsky, Mondrian, Braque and Delaunay shocked audiences. The freedom coming from abstract art inspired some of the greatest photographers to break the rules.

Erwin Quedenfeldt exhibited the first abstract photographs in Cologne in 1914. From 1920 to 1930, Europe became the epicenters of conceptual photography with artists such as Jaroslav Rossler, Josef Sudeck, and Rössler exploring abstraction.

Post-processing became more central to photographic works in the 60s and the 70s, with artists like Josef Newman. Eventually, the growing popularity of computers in the 90s and the 2000s opened up infinite possibilities for creating original work. Some contemporary photographers like Peter Klasen, Dominic Harris, or Nicolas Dubreuille combine photography with other mediums.

Find them all on Artsper with our unique selection of abstract photographs.



Collector’s Guide: Collecting Fine Art Photographs

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price,500 facet,10503*Artworks by best-selling artists|icon-bestsellers*bestsellers facet,10503*Oeuvres d’artistes best sellers|icon-bestsellers*bestsellers facet,10503*Werke von Bestseller-Künstlern|icon-bestsellers*werke-von-kunstlern-bestseller facet,10503*Obras de los artistas más vendidos|icon-bestsellers*obras-de-los-artistas-mas-vendidos price,501:1000 category,6*Peinture*peinture category,6*Painting*painting category,6*Gemälde*gemalde category,6*Pintura*pintura facet,10500*Young Talents|icon-youngtalents*youngtalents facet,10500*Obras de artistas emergentes|icon-youngtalents*obras-de-artistas-emergentes facet,10500*Werke von aufstrebenden Künstlern|icon-youngtalents*werke-von-jungen-kunstlern facet,10500*Oeuvres d'artistes émergents|icon-youngtalents*jeunes-talents facet,10500*Werke aufstrebender Künstler|icon-youngtalents*werke-von-jungen-kunstlern facet,1629*Abstraite*abstraite facet,1629*abstrakt*abstrakt facet,1629*abstracto*abstracto facet,1629*Abstract*abstract facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)*moyen facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)*moyen facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)|medium*moyen facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)|medium*moyen facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)*grand facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)|large*grand facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)|large*grand facet,8259*unsere Empfehlungen|icon-recommendations*unsere-empfehlungen facet,8259*Our recommendations|icon-recommendations*recommendations facet,8259*Nos recommandations|icon-recommendations*recommandations facet,8259*Nuestras recomendaciones|icon-recommendations*nuestras-recomendaciones facet,10497*Werke berühmter Künstler|icon-masterpieces*werke-beruhmter-kunstler facet,10497*Oeuvres d'artistes célèbres|icon-masterpieces*artistes-celebres facet,10497*Artworks by famous artists|icon-masterpieces*masterpieces facet,10497*Obras de artistas famosos|icon-masterpieces*obras-de-artistas-famosos price,1001:5000 facet,1635*Street art*street-art facet,1635*Straßenkunst*street-art facet,1635*arte callejero*arte-callejero category,5*Sculpture*sculpture category,5*Skulptur*skulptur category,5*Escultura*escultura category,9*Photography*photography category,9*Photographie*photographie category,9*Fotografie*fotografie category,9*Fotografía*fotografia facet,1686*Pop Art*pop-art facet,1686*Arte pop*arte-pop facet,1686*Pop-Art*pop-art facet,1671*Nature*nature facet,1671*Natur*natur facet,1671*Naturaleza*naturaleza facet,1644*Portrait*portrait facet,1644*Porträt*portrat facet,1644*Retrato*retrato price,1000:501 facet,1641*Nude*nude facet,1641*Nus*nus facet,1641*Akt*akte facet,1641*desnudos*desnudos facet,1827*Portrait*orientation-portrait facet,1827*Retrato|portrait*orientation-retrato facet,1827*Portrait|portrait*orientation-portrait facet,1827*Hochformat|portrait*orientation-portrat facet,1827*Retrato*orientation-retrato category,23*Dessin*dessin category,23*Zeichnung*zeichnung category,23*Fine Art Drawings*drawing category,23*Dibujo*dibujo facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)*tres-grand facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)|very-large*tres-grand facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)|very-large*tres-grand category,15*Edition*edition category,15*Print*print category,15*Druck*editionen category,15*Edición*edicion facet,8277*Large (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)|large*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)|large*large facet,1830*Paysage*orientation-paysage facet,1830*Landscape*orientation-landscape facet,1830*Paisaje*orientation-paisaje facet,1830*Landschaft*orientation-landschaft facet,1830*Paysage|landscape*orientation-paysage facet,1830*Landscape|landscape*orientation-landscape facet,1830*Landschaft|landscape*orientation-landschaft facet,1830*Paisaje|landscape*orientation-paisaje facet,8301*Oeuvres en promotion|icon-promotions*promotions facet,8301*Special offers|icon-promotions*promotions facet,8301*Special Offers|icon-promotions*vergunstigte-werke facet,8301*Trabajos en promoción|icon-promotions*trabajos-en-promocion facet,1674*Scène de vie*scene-de-vie facet,1674*Everyday life*everyday-life facet,1674*Etchleben*etchleben facet,1674*Escena de la vida*escena-de-la-vida facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)|medium*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)|medium*medium facet,1680*Animaux*animaux facet,1680*Animales*animales facet,1680*Tier*tier facet,1680*Animal*animal facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 20 x 20 inch)*petit facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 50 x 50 cm)*petit facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 50 x 50 cm)|small*petit facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 20 x 20 inch)|small*petit facet,1668*Noir et blanc*noir-et-blanc facet,1668*Black and white*black-and-white facet,1668*Schwarz und weiß*schwarz-und-weiss facet,1668*Blanco y negro*blanco-y-negro facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)|very-large*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)|very-large*very-large price,5001:10000 facet,1632*Architecture*architecture facet,1632*Arquitectura*arquitectura facet,1632*Die Architektur*die-architektur price,50001 facet,1650*Paysage urbain*paysage-urbain facet,1650*Städtische Landschaft*stadtische-landschaft facet,1650*Urban Landscape*urban-landscape facet,1650*Paisaje urbano*paisaje-urbano facet,1659*Flore*flore facet,1659*Flora*flora facet,1659*Floral*floral facet,1659*Flores*flores facet,108*Öl*ol facet,108*huile*huile facet,108*oil*oil facet,108*al oleo*al-oleo facet,126*acrylique*acrylique facet,126*acrylic*acrylic facet,126*Acryl-*acryl facet,126*acrílico*acrilico price,10001:25000 facet,42*Rouge|FC2912*rouge facet,42*Red|FC2912*red facet,42*rot|FC2912*rot facet,42*Rojo|FC2912*rojo facet,12*noir|050002*noir facet,12*Black|050002*black facet,12*schwarz|050002*schwarz facet,12*negro|050002*negro facet,1692*Géométrique*geometrique facet,1692*Geometric*geometric facet,1692*Geometrisch*geometrisch facet,1692*Geometría*geometria price,25001:50000 facet,1656*Graphique*graphique facet,1656*Grafik*grafik facet,1656*Graphic*graphic facet,1656*Gráfico*grafico
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Jacques Renoir, Allumettes 1, Photography

Jacques Renoir

Allumettes 1, 2015
57 x 40 cm
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$1,728

Alain Kramer, Barc 1507-25 - série Photos absraite, Photography

Alain Kramer

Barc 1507-25 - série Photos absraite, 2015
81 x 60 x 0.5 cm
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Our recommendations Anna Levesh, Tropical Mood - Archi-Lines Series, Photography

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Bernhard Lang, L'huile en Gros Plan_014, Photography

Bernhard Lang

L'huile en Gros Plan_014, 2021
75 x 100 x 2 cm
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Linda Chapman, Colour Wrap, Photography

Linda Chapman

Colour Wrap, 2019
40 x 40 x 0.1 cm
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Jean-Luc Petit, Emerald bather, Photography

Jean-Luc Petit

Emerald bather, 2019
80 x 120 x 0.2 cm
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Our recommendations Thomas Ruff, Substrat 31 III, Photography

Thomas Ruff

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Gaston Bertin, Quintessential, Photography

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Quintessential, 2019
40 x 30 x 4 cm
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Mahtab Hussain, Door detail from my mother's home, Photography

Mahtab Hussain

Door detail from my mother's home, 2016
60 x 42.5 x 1 cm
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$8,152

Walter and Zoniel, Toki-3-Em/n (The Knot of Future), Photography

Walter and Zoniel

Toki-3-Em/n (The Knot of Future), 2014
100 x 140 x 5 cm
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Jean-Marc Stoeffler, Cascade en Vercors, Photography

Jean-Marc Stoeffler

Cascade en Vercors, 2019
37 x 47 x 1 cm
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$288

Angeles Peña, Hielos de San Rafael (Patagonia), Photography

Angeles Peña

Hielos de San Rafael (Patagonia), 2015
99.1 x 69.9 x 0.3 cm
Photography

$500

Our recommendations Yann Merran, Murano, Photography

Yann Merran

Murano, 2010
90 x 60 x 2 cm
Photography

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Patrick Chappert-Gaujal, Sans titre, Photography

Patrick Chappert-Gaujal

Sans titre, 2018
94 x 74 x 0.2 cm
Photography

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Our recommendations Konstantin Kornakov, Codes esthétiques 0373, Photography

Konstantin Kornakov

Codes esthétiques 0373, 2015
60 x 45 cm
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Our recommendations Paul Snell, Trace # 201904, Photography

Paul Snell

Trace # 201904, 2019
120 x 49 cm
Photography

$4,483

Frédérique Bouet, Tracer l'horizon 11, Photography

Frédérique Bouet

Tracer l'horizon 11, 2012
60 x 60 x 4 cm
Photography

$1,549

Sjaak Korsten, Hide 2, Photography

Sjaak Korsten

Hide 2, 2017
85 x 70 x 1 cm
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$1,843

Our recommendations Seb Janiak, Gravity - Liquid 05, Photography

Seb Janiak

Gravity - Liquid 05, 2014
110 x 86 cm
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$5,978

Venelina Katanska, Divine, Photography

Venelina Katanska

Divine, 2015
90 x 135 cm
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$518

Our recommendations Tiantian Xu, L'encre dansant : avril, Photography

Tiantian Xu

L'encre dansant : avril, 2014
100 x 100 cm
Photography

$2,534

Shine Huang, Rebirth II, Photography

Shine Huang

Rebirth II, 2018
50.8 x 40.6 x 0.3 cm
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$1,800

Richard Caldicott, Untitled 109, Photography

Richard Caldicott

Untitled 109, 1999
36 x 28 cm
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$1,359

Nagsoul, Gina (Butts and crotches), Photography

Nagsoul

Gina (Butts and crotches), 2020
60 x 40 cm
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$449

Our recommendations Madeleine Gross, Rainbow Boat Scene, Photography

Madeleine Gross

Rainbow Boat Scene, 2020
45.7 x 30.5 x 2.5 cm
Photography

$2,000

Javier Rey, Recordings (Arias), Photography

Javier Rey

Recordings (Arias), 2020
80 x 53 x 0.1 cm
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$1,000

Imagilaire, Dcsq by BTNHMCRWL (Amsterdam), Photography

Imagilaire

Dcsq by BTNHMCRWL (Amsterdam), 2019
60 x 60 x 0.5 cm
Photography

$922

Luuk De Haan, Nine Rectangles 1, Photography

Luuk De Haan

Nine Rectangles 1, 2017
49.5 x 42 cm
Photography

$1,834

Philip Provily, Bleue, Photography

Philip Provily

Bleue, 2006
57 x 45 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$1,382

Arthur Hent, Self-Portrait 20.62, Photography

Arthur Hent

Self-Portrait 20.62, 2020
40 x 30 x 2.5 cm
Photography

$691

Eli Joteva, CryoLumen Storm Print: Snow Water in a Snow Storm, 1-hour exposure (Rila National Park), January 17, 2021, Photography

Eli Joteva

CryoLumen Storm Print: Snow Water in a Snow Storm, 1-hour exposure (Rila National Park), January 17, 2021, 2021
100 x 80 x 4 cm
Photography

$968

Jérémie Lenoir, #6561087, Salt lake, Photography

Jérémie Lenoir

#6561087, Salt lake, 2017
80 x 80 x 0.5 cm
Photography

$3,225

Our recommendations Jean-Paul Baret, N°2064, Photography

Jean-Paul Baret

N°2064, 2018
100 x 65 cm
Photography

$858

Jason Engelund, Colors, Photography

Jason Engelund

Colors, 2021
35.5 x 28 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$815

Elise Vincent, Lucy - série univers oniriques intérieurs, Photography

Elise Vincent

Lucy - série univers oniriques intérieurs, 2020
80 x 80 x 1 cm
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$1,382

Dominique Moreau, Abys, Photography

Dominique Moreau

Abys, 2016
66 x 100 x 0.5 cm
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$1,359

Pol Durruff, Sans titre, Photography

Pol Durruff

Sans titre, 2018
62 x 54 x 4 cm
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$1,244

Our recommendations Cat Soubbotnik, Longueur d'ondes, Photography

Cat Soubbotnik

Longueur d'ondes, 2012
168 x 160 x 3 cm
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Stéphane Martin, Hydrocarbure, Photography

Stéphane Martin

Hydrocarbure, 2018
40 x 30 x 0.04 cm
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$173

Our recommendations Marie-Fa Lazzari, Rubis, Photography

Marie-Fa Lazzari

Rubis, 2014
37 x 27 cm
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Tenesh Webber, Loops 1, Photography

Tenesh Webber

Loops 1, 2015
28 x 28 cm
Photography

$2,717

Gisela Gaffoglio, Mediodía, Photography

Gisela Gaffoglio

Mediodía, 2018
75 x 48 x 1 cm
Photography

$1,037

Strahil Penev, Total Screen II, Photography

Strahil Penev

Total Screen II, 2021
78 x 57 x 1 cm
Photography

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Marie-Laure Possovre, Prairie, Photography

Marie-Laure Possovre

Prairie, 2019
30 x 60 cm
Photography

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Aleksandros Kanellopoulos, Alien, Photography

Aleksandros Kanellopoulos

Alien, 2017
70 x 50 cm
Photography

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James Godman, 070425, Photography

James Godman

070425, 2007
91.5 x 91.5 cm
Photography

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Zigmunds Orlovskis, Microbial Map of Middle Earth, Photography

Zigmunds Orlovskis

Microbial Map of Middle Earth, 2019
40 x 40 cm
Photography

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Philippe Piccardi, Le chaos est une structure, Photography

Philippe Piccardi

Le chaos est une structure, 2017
60 x 60 cm
Photography

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Robertas Ursache, A flower within a flower, Photography

Robertas Ursache

A flower within a flower, 2017
30 x 30 cm
Photography

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Olivier Liégent, Canonus de caelo, Photography

Olivier Liégent

Canonus de caelo, 2014
51 x 90 x 2 cm
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Michel Verna, Tango au couchant - série paysage abstrait, Photography

Michel Verna

Tango au couchant - série paysage abstrait, 2020
60 x 90 x 0.5 cm
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Pierre Lan, Beauté de la résilience #2, Photography

Pierre Lan

Beauté de la résilience #2, 2020
50 x 76 cm
Photography

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Sophie Derrick, Close to nothing (Pink), Photography

Sophie Derrick

Close to nothing (Pink), 2015
42 x 30 x 8 cm
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$1,630

Our recommendations Corinne Cavillac, Colombes A, Photography

Corinne Cavillac

Colombes A, 2017
150 x 100 cm
Photography

$2,073

Our recommendations Barnaby Irish, Deep Field 1, Photography

Barnaby Irish

Deep Field 1, 2019
38 x 28.5 cm
Photography

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Our recommendations Gottfried Jäger, Photo 111103.4, Photography

Gottfried Jäger

Photo 111103.4, 2011
70 x 70 x 3 cm
Photography

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Jean-Claude Byandb, Apparition() Disparition, Photography

Jean-Claude Byandb

Apparition() Disparition, 2015
60 x 45 x 0.1 cm
Photography

$703

Sandra Salamonová, Just Blue, Photography

Sandra Salamonová

Just Blue, 2019
50 x 50 cm
Photography

$922

Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarreye, Yam seeds in my grandmother’s country, Photography

Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarreye

Yam seeds in my grandmother’s country, 2020
180 x 120 x 3 cm
Photography

$36,861

Robert Charles Mann, Solargraph 20180621-13, Photography

Robert Charles Mann

Solargraph 20180621-13, 2018
60 x 84 cm
Photography

$4,608

Ana Popescu, XI Serie I have been there, Photography

Ana Popescu

XI Serie I have been there, 2021
20 x 15 x 4 cm
Photography

$461

Damien De Bellis, Belly's Pollens, Photography

Damien De Bellis

Belly's Pollens, 2018
70 x 70 cm
Photography

$265

Gérard Allaguillemette, Immobilités #04, Photography

Gérard Allaguillemette

Immobilités #04, 2019
20 x 150 x 0.2 cm
Photography

$288

Maureen J Haldeman, Defining Shadows IV, Photography

Maureen J Haldeman

Defining Shadows IV, 2019
61 x 45.7 x 0.6 cm
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