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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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Jérémie Lenoir, Salt Lake, Photography

Jérémie Lenoir

Salt Lake, 2015
47.2 x 47.2 inch
Photography

$5,896

Robert Charles Mann, Solargraph 20180621-13, Photography

Robert Charles Mann

Solargraph 20180621-13, 2018
23.6 x 33.1 inch
Photography

$5,018

Strahil Penev, Total Screen II, Photography

Strahil Penev

Total Screen II, 2021
30.7 x 22.4 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$615

Natasha Zupan, Eternal Recurrence #63, Photo collage with intervention by the artist, Photography

Natasha Zupan

Eternal Recurrence #63, Photo collage with intervention by the artist, 2015
60 x 48 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$6,000

Serge Hamad, Temporal Perception # 143, Photography

Serge Hamad

Temporal Perception # 143, 2018
36 x 48 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$1,800

Ana Popescu, XI Serie I have been there, Photography

Ana Popescu

XI Serie I have been there, 2021
7.9 x 5.9 x 1.6 inch
Photography

$502

Elise Vincent, La Fureur de l’éléphant - série univers oniriques intérieurs, Photography

Elise Vincent

La Fureur de l’éléphant - série univers oniriques intérieurs, 2020
11.8 x 11.8 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$314

Sjaak Korsten, Hide 3, Photography

Sjaak Korsten

Hide 3, 2017
33.5 x 27.6 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$2,007

Mauren Brodbeck, Exploration of a Sonic landscape (Exploration n°0204), Photography

Mauren Brodbeck

Exploration of a Sonic landscape (Exploration n°0204), 2015
15.7 x 21.7 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$1,192

Yasuo Kiyonaga, Scattered Scenery 06, Photography

Yasuo Kiyonaga

Scattered Scenery 06, 2021
39.4 x 59.1 inch
Photography

$4,767

Jesus Chamizo, Palacios Tribute 2, Photography

Jesus Chamizo

Palacios Tribute 2, 2015
49.2 x 31.5 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$2,333

Philippe Fabian, Dans les forêts, Photography

Philippe Fabian

Dans les forêts, 2016
35.4 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$5,018

David Burdeny, HumpbackWhales Kalbari Western Australia, Photography

David Burdeny

HumpbackWhales Kalbari Western Australia, 2021
44 x 44 x 2 inch
Photography

$8,500

Zin Taylor, Acrobatic Composition Using Form and Light (The Circus), Photography

Zin Taylor

Acrobatic Composition Using Form and Light (The Circus), 2014
33.1 x 25.2 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$5,646

Isabel Devos, Layers, Photography

Isabel Devos

Layers, 2020
13.8 x 11.8 x 2 inch
Photography

$1,443

Aimo, Peacock, Photography

Aimo

Peacock, 2020
27.6 x 39.4 x 0.2 inch
Photography

$753

Lilia El Golli, Corruption(s) - Air’Able, Photography

Lilia El Golli

Corruption(s) - Air’Able, 2015
15.7 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$938

Balthazar Ausset, Studio Visit, Photography

Balthazar Ausset

Studio Visit, 2020
63 x 39.4 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$1,631

Rachel Wolfe, Ruisseau Holocene I, Photography

Rachel Wolfe

Ruisseau Holocene I, 2019
19.7 x 13.8 x 0 inch
Photography

$568

Gina Vor, Prussian Blue 4, Photography

Gina Vor

Prussian Blue 4, 2020
11.7 x 8.3 x 0 inch
Photography

$138

Paul Snell, Lumina # 202103, Photography

Paul Snell

Lumina # 202103, 2021
66.9 x 3.3 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$4,956

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

Angeles Peña

Hielos de San Rafael (Patagonia), 2015
39 x 27.5 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$500

Richard Caldicott, Chance/Fall (4), Photography

Richard Caldicott

Chance/Fall (4), 2010
50 x 40.2 inch
Photography

$12,098

Our recommendations Konstantin Kornakov, Codes esthétiques 0373, Photography

Konstantin Kornakov

Codes esthétiques 0373, 2015
23.6 x 17.7 inch
Photography

$878

Tenesh Webber, Spiral II, Photography

Tenesh Webber

Spiral II, 2001
20 x 20 inch
Photography

$4,081

Joëlle Acoulon, 24 février 2018, Photography

Joëlle Acoulon

24 février 2018, 2018
23.6 x 27.6 inch
Photography

$928

Luuk De Haan, Wellicht 3, Photography

Luuk De Haan

Wellicht 3, 2013
11.7 x 8.3 inch
Photography

$656

Seb Janiak, Gravity liquid 58 (Large), Photography

Seb Janiak

Gravity liquid 58 (Large), 2015
63 x 49.4 inch
Photography

$8,746

Tiantian Xu, L'encre dansant : février, Photography

Tiantian Xu

L'encre dansant : février, 2014
39.4 x 39.4 inch
Photography

$2,760

Pierre Lan, Beauté de la résilience #2, Photography

Pierre Lan

Beauté de la résilience #2, 2020
19.7 x 29.9 inch
Photography

$1,066

Jason Engelund, Feel, Canyon Road (Abstract photography), Photography

Jason Engelund

Feel, Canyon Road (Abstract photography), 2020
20.1 x 16.1 inch
Photography

$1,020

Gianfranco Pezzot, VIII: The Unselfconsciousness Of Eros, Photography

Gianfranco Pezzot

VIII: The Unselfconsciousness Of Eros, 2017
94.5 x 70.9 inch
Photography

$19,823

Daniel Nikolic, Melankolia N°44, Photography

Daniel Nikolic

Melankolia N°44, 2017
19.7 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$351

Valérie Gho, Cyanotype numéro 6, Photography

Valérie Gho

Cyanotype numéro 6, 2018
7.9 x 7.9 inch
Photography

$301

Olivier Liégent, Canonus de caelo, Photography

Olivier Liégent

Canonus de caelo, 2014
20.1 x 35.4 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$1,882

Paula Guagliardi, Threads XIX, Photography

Paula Guagliardi

Threads XIX, 2020
16.5 x 11.7 x 0.2 inch
Photography

$240

James Godman, 070425, Photography

James Godman

070425, 2007
36 x 36 inch
Photography

$1,603

Gérard Allaguillemette, Immobilités #04, Photography

Gérard Allaguillemette

Immobilités #04, 2019
7.9 x 59.1 x 0.1 inch
Photography

$314

Mladen Yordanov, Still Life - Sculpture - 1, Photography

Mladen Yordanov

Still Life - Sculpture - 1, 2020
21.7 x 17.7 inch
Photography

$364

Claude Billès, Banyuls, Photography

Claude Billès

Banyuls, 2020
23.6 x 43.3 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$2,384

Marie-Laure Possovre, Prairie, Photography

Marie-Laure Possovre

Prairie, 2019
11.8 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$228

Dusan Racko, Chromosome Gem, Photography

Dusan Racko

Chromosome Gem, 2018
18.9 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$319

Robertas Ursache, The Surface, Photography

Robertas Ursache

The Surface, 2019
15.7 x 15.7 inch
Photography

$228

Kohey Kanno, Invisible Memories #2, Photography

Kohey Kanno

Invisible Memories #2, 2018
23.4 x 16.5 x 1.6 inch
Photography

$2,384

Peter Marhavy, Plants can bleed too, Photography

Peter Marhavy

Plants can bleed too, 2017
15.7 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$273

Damien De Bellis, Belly's Pollens, Photography

Damien De Bellis

Belly's Pollens, 2018
27.6 x 27.6 inch
Photography

$512

Aleksandros Kanellopoulos, Alien, Photography

Aleksandros Kanellopoulos

Alien, 2017
27.6 x 19.7 inch
Photography

$376

Arthur Hent, Self-Portrait 20.62, Photography

Arthur Hent

Self-Portrait 20.62, 2020
15.7 x 11.8 x 1 inch
Photography

$753

Our recommendations Cat Soubbotnik, Longueur d'ondes, Photography

Cat Soubbotnik

Longueur d'ondes, 2012
66.1 x 63 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$8,531

Tony Soulié, Sans titre, Photography

Tony Soulié

Sans titre, 2020
15.7 x 19.7 inch
Photography

$3,387

Nick Veasey, Parrot Tulip Side_, Photography

Nick Veasey

Parrot Tulip Side_, 2021
36 x 36 x 2 inch
Photography

5,000 - $ 10,000

Ifig, Sans titre, Photography

Ifig

Sans titre, 2017
23.6 x 70.9 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$3,136

Michael Kenna, Torii Hokaido, Photography

Michael Kenna

Torii Hokaido, 1989
9.8 x 7.9 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$6,900

Our recommendations Petros Chrisostomou, Myriad (10-61 Jackson Avenue), Photography

Petros Chrisostomou

Myriad (10-61 Jackson Avenue), 2013
39.4 x 31.5 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$5,646

Jean-Paul Baret, N°1150, Photography

Jean-Paul Baret

N°1150, 2017
23.6 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$521

Eduard Boev, Fireworks of colours, Photography

Eduard Boev

Fireworks of colours, 2020
24 x 30 x 1 inch
Photography

$1,500

Jesse Willems, Pocketful of spring (Left), Photography

Jesse Willems

Pocketful of spring (Left), 2018
50 x 34.1 x 0 inch
Photography

$4,391

Our recommendations Barnaby Irish, Deep Field 1, Photography

Barnaby Irish

Deep Field 1, 2019
15 x 11.2 inch
Photography

$815

Hein Gravenhorst, Wellenelement multiple Rotation, Photography

Hein Gravenhorst

Wellenelement multiple Rotation, 1966
19.7 x 19.7 inch
Photography

$18,818

Sylvia Rime, Ying Yang, Photography

Sylvia Rime

Ying Yang, 2018
31.5 x 31.5 inch
Photography

$753

Roman Koenig, Serie New World #3, Photography

Roman Koenig

Serie New World #3, 2016
35.4 x 23.6 x 2 inch
Photography

$1,255

Anna Lazareva, Metaphysical Body Landscapes #4, Photography

Anna Lazareva

Metaphysical Body Landscapes #4, 2018
11.4 x 20.9 inch
Photography

$326

Jean-Claude Byandb, Apparition() Disparition, Photography

Jean-Claude Byandb

Apparition() Disparition, 2015
23.6 x 17.7 x 0 inch
Photography

$765

Marie-Fa Lazzari, Du premier pas, Photography

Marie-Fa Lazzari

Du premier pas, 2016
16.5 x 11.8 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$401

60 Artworks on 1815

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