Why not both?

You are ready to shop for a new for piece your home or art collection, and you think what do I really want? If you are working with an art dealer, you may want to think about whether you like representational or abstract work. What am I even talking about?


Representational art is a piece that looks like an intended subject. It "represents" something. A tree in a field, a forest with ferns, a portrait.

Abstract work does not try to represent anything. It uses texture, shape, color and form to communicate with the viewer.

One is no better than the other. I know that when I first started collecting art I really loved the skill and technique of a well executed representational piece. And I understood representational art without it having to be explained. Something that I have come to realize is that an abstract piece can be just as well executed and be just as technical; and I can usually pick up on what the artist is trying to convey. It is all up to the viewer, and you can choose only what you like. It does help the person assisting you in these choices to know what you like. And don’t be apologetic about what you like, or not knowing.


There is room for interpretation in an abstract and also in a representational piece. A great abstract can convey incredible depth of feeling. I can remember when I first began my career that I was obligated to put at least on piece out for every artist, and one of the artist’s work made me feel angry. It was hard to have hanging in the gallery.

The red in all these pieces make an arc and make them relate to one another. “Fireflies at Dawn I and II” by Fritzi Huber and in the middle an abstract by Kevin Bass. Furniture by Decades of Decor.

Representational piece of a beach by Kyle Highsmith

A representational piece can also have a range of emotions for the viewer- feelings of nostalgia or joy could be conjured by piece reminding you of a vacation or summer. I find the pieces that I can invent an entire story about are the ones that I gravitate towards the most.


I think there is room for both in a great collection. If you buy your art over time you can see your tastes change. I vacillate between the two, as well. Last fall I bought an Owen Wexler (representational) and I also own a James L. Williams (abstract.) My next purchase is a Catherine C. Martin (representational.) By experiencing more art, you may broaden your horizons and discover that your tastes over time change, or that you amass a very interesting collection! Until next time….


Buy some art, for art’s sake!