What exactly is representational art?

Representational art refers to art which represents something, whether that be a tree in a landscape, apple in a still life, or figure in a portrait. Or in other words, it is art which is clearly identifiable as something which already exists in life.

Representational artwork aims to represent actual objects or subjects from reality. Subcategories under representational art include Realism, Impressionism, Idealism, and Stylization. All of these forms of representationalism represent actual subjects from reality. Although some of these forms are taking steps toward abstraction, they still fall under the category of representation. Representational art is perhaps the oldest of the three types of art.

This term that generally refers to a painting that is clearly recognizable for what it claims to be. It references images such as a human form or a tree, and although these images may not always be portrayed as true to life in color or position, they are still recognizable to the viewer. Representational Art depicts any identifiable object or series of objects and their physical appearance in reality. It is also referred to as Figurative Art, being that it is derived from real object sources. Oftentimes, representational artists act as observers, and interpret what they see in their own way through their work.

Below are some examples of representational art created by the artists from TrendGallery Art:

 figurative art

Abstract Acrylic Paintings On Canvas Extra Large Actors Faces Artwork Unique Celebrity Painting | CELEBRITIES

Abstract art

Original Abstract Girl Painting Creative Gold Leaf Paintings On Canvas Girl | MEN'S DREAMS representational art

Artwork Original | BULL AND BEAR 

portrait painting

Abstract Figurative Painting Large Wall Artwork Colorful Painting Face Painting Modern Painting | WISDOM OF FATE

 Representational art does not need to be a completely realistic depiction of the subject; there will often be varying levels of abstraction. For example, the Impressionists painted with loose brushwork and simplified forms, often far from a realistic depiction, but their work can still be identifiable as something which already exists.

Nevertheless, one can say that representational art includes all imagery which represents an identifiable object or series of objects. Common examples of this type of art include portraits, traditional landscapes, paintings of everyday scenes, historical or mythological painting, still lifes and of course various types of figurative art.

abstract landscape

Oil Paintings Landscape Abstract Painting Canvas Original Texture Paintings On Canvas | NATIVE PLACES

 Large original city abstract artwork

Original City Abstract Paintings On Canvas Large Abstract Painting | HIDDEN ATTRACTION

Representational art is important first because it provides a standard by which artistic merit can be judged. For example, a portrait can be judged according to the likeness it conveys of the sitter; a landscape can be assessed according to its similarity with a particular scene; and a street-scene can be compared with real-life; a painting of a darkened scene can be judged according to how well it depicts light and shadow, so on.

Secondly, representational art is an important foundation for all visual art, because it depends upon an artist's proficiency in drawing, perspective, use of color/tone, portrayal of light and overall composition: skills which underpin numerous forms of visual art. Furthermore, these objective skills can be taught to students for the benefit of all, not least because such education can draw on, maintain and improve artistic methods.

Thirdly, because representational images are easily recognizable, and thus appreciable, they help to make art accessible to the general public. In contrast, abstract or non-representational artworks may require considerable knowledge on the part of the spectator before they can be 'truly' understood. This requirement often acts as a regrettable 'barrier' between artists and the public.

Representational painting plays an irreplaceable role in the creation, assessment and enjoyment of fine art, and should be strongly promoted by responsible individuals and bodies alike.


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Updated on Sep 18, 2020 by Alex Vlasenko