The main difference between representational art and nonrepresentational art is that representational art is art that represents something recognizable from the real world, while nonrepresentational art is art that does not represent anything from the real world.
Nonrepresentational art is the opposite of representational art. Despite their differences, both can be aesthetically pleasing and can express feelings and emotions.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Representational Art
– Definition, Features
2. What is Nonrepresentational Art
– Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Representational and Nonrepresentational Art
– Comparison of Key Differences
Abstract Art, Representational Art, Nonrepresentational Art
What is Representational Art
Representational art is art that represents something – such as a human figure, animal, or objects around us. In this type of art, we can clearly identify something that already exists around us. For example, a figure in a portrait, a tree in a landscape, or a chair in a still life. In the below painting, you can clearly recognize a little girl; in other words, this image represents a girl.
However, representational art does not have to be true to life; in other words, they do not have to be realistic depictions. Therefore, trees in a representational artwork do not have to be green or upright. What’s important is that they should be clearly represented as trees, and the audience must be able to recognize them.
What is Nonrepresentational Art
Nonrepresentational art is the opposite of representational art. As its name suggests, it’s an art that does not represent places, beings, or events. In other words, it’s an art that does not represent anything from the real world. But they can express emotions and feelings. Artists use various shapes, colours, and lines to create such art.
Although most of us assume that nonrepresentational art is the same as abstract art, there is a difference between the two. When artists work on abstract art, they distort the view of something they know – a person, object, or place. For instance, they can paint a landscape as an abstract. In fact, the world-famous Pablo Picasso often depicted people and instruments in abstract form. But when painting nonrepresentational art, artists do not paint something from the real world or something that is known to them. It can be splashes of paint or blocks of colours. Furthermore, the meaning of nonrepresentational art is subjective. The audience interprets the meaning of the art on their own, and there is no one ‘correct’ interpretation.
Difference Between Representational and Nonrepresentational Art
Representational art is an art that represents something recognizable from the real world while nonrepresentational art is an art that does not represent anything from the real world.
Subject of Art
Representational art can represent people, animals, objects, places, and events, while nonrepresentational art includes shapes, colours, and lines.
The meaning of representational art is quite obvious, but the meaning of nonrepresentational art is subjective.
Representational art may include a certain level of abstraction, but nonrepresentational art is totally abstract.
The main difference between representational art and nonrepresentational art is that representational art is an art that represents something recognizable from the real world, while nonrepresentational art is an art that does not represent anything from the real world. Therefore, anyone can easily understand the meaning of representational art, but the meaning of nonrepresentational art is quite difficult to figure out and is open to different interpretations.
1. Fosmire, Edward. “Representational, Abstract, and Nonrepresentational Art.” Lumen – Introduction to Art Concepts, SAC, ART100.
2. Scott, Dan. “Representational Art.” Draw Paint Academy, 7 May 2021.
3. Gersh-Nesic, Beth. “Wait, Isn’t Nonrepresentational Art Just Abstract Art?” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 23 Sept. 2019.
1. “Girl painting young wall writing” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “Pixies, abstract background, multi colored, backgrounds, textured, full frame, paint, abstract, art and craft, pattern” (CC0) via Pxfuel