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Black and white abstract painting

The concept of black and white painting is as simple as creating paintings in black and white medium or using black and white are the primary or only colors. Throughout history, several celebrated artists have used black and white painting to accentuate various contrasting ideas and realities and represent significant societal issues. They have created some of the most memorable compositions in the art industry. 


Abstract paintings became a thing at the beginning of the twentieth century. This form of art stands out from the rest because of the use of visual languages of shape, form, color, and line. Abstract feature subjects that exist independently from orthodox visual references.
Therefore, contrary to other art forms, abstract art does not represent specific objects, places, or people. For instance, portrait paintings are not part of abstract art.

The use of color and form is big in abstract art. Color is significant because it helps bring forth various themes and makes the pieces easy to interpret. Black and white abstract painting is particularly popular. Many famous abstract painters have employed black and white abstract painting in various eras, including the contemporary era. This is because depicting the meaning of the colors is easy. Some of the most powerful paintings in the abstract art movement are black and white. They portray strong emotions and effectively capture their audience.

        black and white painting


Symbolism in black and white painting?

Colors have a lot of allegory in different cultures, religions, histories, and locations. The two colors have been used in the past and modern artistic era for various representations. In most cases, the two colors are used to represent opposite content, objects, or meanings.
Celebrated painters like Vincent Van Gogh and Boezem Marinus have used these colors to represent contrasting ideas and elements of nature.

Many cultures, especially Western cultures, view white as representing innocence, purity, unity, and allegiance. For example, white is used in special events like baptism and weddings to symbolize purity. Artists like Pablo Picasso have used white to portray purity and innocence in numerous compositions. On the other hand, the contrary can also be applied.
fFor instance, white is considered a representation of mourning in African cultures.

On the contrary, black is perceived as a representation of dealth, evil, and darkness in most cultures. In some cases, it also represents power and prestige. The clear visual and symbolic disparity between the two colors is what makes black and white painting an incredible phenomenon.

Famous black and white painting

Black and white painting, including black and white abstract painting, is a concept that has existed for a long time.
There are famous examples of such paintings in almost every era. The following are a few of the most celebrated black and white paintings globally;

Cart with Black Ox with Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is amongst the most eminent artists in the world. He is known for uniquely capturing some of the most subtle elements in nature. Cart with Black Ox is one of Van Gogh’s popular works composed in 1994.
This composition falls in the black and white painting category because used black throughout and utilized the white color of the medium in some parts. The black color represents the disheartening nature of the tough carnal toil oxen are often exposed to. The use of the medium to create the white portions of the painting is a unique detail representing the fragility of the Oxen.

The Charnel House by Pablo Picasso

This is a black and white painting was done by Pablo Picasso, one of the most prominent painters globally.
The Charnel house is a black and white absract painting featuring several abstract figures. The painting forced its viewers to pay close attention to the form of its subjects because of the voidness of color. This black and white painting is largely and unapologetically political. It featured a horrific murder scene for a family across their dining room floor. The two colors represent the severity of the scene and force viewers to take a good look to interpret what the painting is all about. The primary aim of the composition was to show the destruction associated with the German occupation in World WarII. Besides this black and white absract painting, Pablo Picasso also featured these two colors in several of his works, including Guernica composition.


pablo picasso black and white painting


Zebra by Victor Vasarely

Victor Vasarely is one of the founding fathers of the optical illusion movement. He created numerous paintings in this category at the beginning of the movement. One of his most renowned compositions in the optical illusion category is Zebra.
This black and white painting was composed in 1937. It contains two zebras playfully inter-twinned in a somewhat embrace.
The artist used black and white patterns to stress the optical illusion application in the painting. The unique patterns of the zebra stripes represent the unusual shapes of nature. This 1965 black and white abstract painting was composed in 1965 using negative variation between the white background and black to portray the white sections of the stripes. This is among the most eminent paintings in this category of all time.

Horse Skull with White Rose by Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe features the skulls of horses or cattle in most of his iconic paintings. This element was regularly linked to the West American culture. Her application of this element results from the several months she stayed in the western region of the United States. During her stay in the deserts of New Mexico, Georgia created the Horse Skull with White Rose.
The composition takes a different approach to the nature of objects. He combines the two in a single composition, which is not common. The painting represents the thin line between life and death. The two colors also highlight the fragility of the nature of life. This is not one of O’Keeffe’s most renowned compositions but among the best common black and white paintings in the modern era.


Horse Skull with White Rose by Georgia O'Keeffe


Chief by Franz Kline

This is a black and white absract painting created in 1950. It is still considered amongst the most beautiful applications of these two colors. It is composed in a unique style unseen in other abstract works.
Unlike most black and white paintings, this painting does not take advantage of the color of the medium by leaving void spaces to represent one of the two. Instead, the painter used paint to create both black and white parts of the composition.


Final Word

Painting in black and white is not only a prevalent in past compositions. Artists and painters in the modern era also commonly use these colors for various representations in their artistic works. The two iconic colors will also continue being applied in compositions by artists across the globe. Painters and art lovers globally consider black and white compositions as some of the most memorable and remarkable works.

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