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Art that does not depict recognizable scenes or objects, but instead is made up of forms and colours that exist for their own expressive sake. This term refers to 20th century painting and sculpture that abandon the traditional European conception of art as the imitation of nature. It has developed into many different movements but three basic tendencies are recognizable: the reduction of natural appearances to radically simplified forms (Brancusi's sculptures), the construction of works of art from non-representational basic forms (Ben Nicholson's reliefs), spontaneous expression as in the "action painting" of Jackson Pollock. By 1910, Abstract art developed more or less simultaneously in various countries. Kandinsky is often cited as the first artist to paint an abstract picture but no artist can in fact be singled out for the distinction.

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