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Abstract Cityscape Art


An abstract cityscape is a representation of an urban environment, created without being a representation of a particular objective reality. The word "cityscape" in art refers to an artwork which is about the physical aspects of an urban area or a city. The word "abstract" means something that is not a representation of an objective reality.

In early art from Roman times, and through the middle ages, birds-eye views of cities were depicted, often as backgrounds for more common artistic themes of those times. From around the middle of the 17th century, Dutch painters developed the cityscape as an independent genre of art. Artists from other parts of Europe followed this example, most famous being Canaletto in Venice.

Later the impressionists often painted cityscapes, but during the early 20th century, the portrayal of cityscapes became less common while the new genre of abstract art became important. Later in the 20th century the cityscape became more popular again, influenced by the changes in the art world up to this time.

Current cityscape painters include Antonio López García (who has America hyperreal influences), Rackstraw Downes, and Richard Estes (his paintings include "telephone booths"). The artist Yvonne Jacquette from America specializes in cityscapes with an aerial view. A London born artist Stephen Wiltshire, is famous for his panoramic cityscape artworks created from memory, after a short overhead view of the city. Brian Whelan, also from London paints semi-abstract cityscapes where the perspectives and special relationships are distorted.

While a cityscape can never be fully abstract, as it is a representation of a city, even if an imaginary one, cityscape paintings can certainly be divorced from a representation of any particular city, and thus more abstract than objective in nature.

The degree of abstraction used in an abstract cityscape can vary greatly, from the impressionists focus on light and movement, all the way to almost entirely abstract pieces which bear only a slight resemblance to a visual or conceptual element of a city.

As well as the physical reality of a city and its component parts, the concepts a city evokes can also be used in the creation of abstract or semi-abstract artworks. Different people will experience a city in different ways, for example a city which might feel safe and welcoming to one person, might feel dangerous and intimidating to another. Different parts of the same city can evoke very different concepts, and the more general concepts of urbanization and city life can also be sources for artistic inspiration.

Techniques used for such artworks can also vary hugely, from painterly use of oils to computer generated images, drawings to collage, and a great many other combinations and styles. The artworks can vary from brightly colored to black and white, geometric to textural and organic forms.

A quick search on the internet reveals a fascinating variety of abstract cityscape images, from almost objective views, to conceptual pieces, and everything in between. New York is overall the most common influence on abstract cityscapes.
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