Difference Between Realism and Abstract Art
By Laura Lee - December 9, 2022

The main difference between realism and abstract art is pretty obvious. The major distinction between realism and abstract art is that realism portrays the natural world and how it is viewed realistically. In contrast, abstract art has no real composition and distances itself from the topic.

Table Summary

Depiction of reality as isDepiction of reality using unnatural shapes and forms
The style is highly regulatedThe style has very few guidelines
nner with Figure (Interno con figura), by Adriano Cecioni, 1868, 19th Century, oil on canvas, 28,5 x 35,5 cm

Getty Images / Mondadori Portfolio


Realism in the arts is the exact, detailed, and unembellished representation of nature or modern life. Realist painters create images of landscapes, cities, and people going about their everyday lives or engaging in social interactions that showcase humanity’s most concrete nature. Realism is an art trend that some art critics and historians call naturalism. Around the middle of the nineteenth century, the Realism movement developed in France.

Abstract art, also known as nonobjective or nonrepresentational art, is a type of painting, sculpture, or graphic art in which depicting objects from the visible world has little or no role. Abstract art originated in the nineteenth century. However, several artists in Asia around the 13th century made works that were quite abstract. However, except for the historical period in which they were produced and the artist who either painted or drew them, little is known about them.

Realism VS Abstract

Realism opposes imaginative idealization in favor of a rigorous examination of visible appearances. Most Realism artists’ overarching theme is to represent the topic of their works in such a way that it inspires awe in their viewers, who expect to appreciate the challenging process of painting works that look genuine. Abstract artists frequently make works difficult for the untrained eye to determine what sort of item, person, or setting is depicted.
Another significant difference is in the guidelines of each style. Realism is meant to portray that which is tangible, a reproduction of human expectations of reality. Abstract art takes various shapes, and very few artists genuinely stick to a rigid set of principles or rules regarding how they like to express whatever they plan to convey to the world. It is a far more liberal kind of art in its capacity to allow the artist to investigate colors, forms, perception, and the many other clearly defined components in the natural world.