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Abstract photography, sometimes called non-objective, experimental, conceptual or concrete photography.

Means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world and that has been created through the use of photographic equipment, processes or materials.


German photographer and photographic theorist Gottfried Jäger

Used the term “concrete photography”, playing off the term “concrete art”, to describe a particular kind of abstract photography. He said:

  • “Concrete photography does not depict the visible (like realistic or documentary ph);
  • It does not represent the non-visible (like staged, depictive ph);
  • It does not take recourse to views (like image-analytical, conceptual, demonstrative ph).
  • Instead it establishes visibility. It is only visible, the only-visible.
  • In this way it abandons its media character and gains object character.”


Barbara Kasten

Barbara Kasten, also a photographer and professor, wrote that “Abstract photography challenges our popular view of ph as an objective image of reality by reasserting its constructed nature…

Freed from its duty to represent, abstract ph continues to be a catchall genre for the blending of mediums and disciplines.

It is an arena to test photography.


Photographer and Professor of Psychology John Suler,

In his essay Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche, said that “An abstract photograph draws away from that which is realistic or literal.

It draws away from natural appearances and recognizable subjects in the actual world.

Some people even say it departs from true meaning, existence, and reality itself.

It stands apart from the concrete whole with its purpose instead depending on conceptual meaning and intrinsic form…

Here’s the acid test: If you look at a photo and there’s a voice inside you that says ‘What is it?’….Well, there you go. It’s an abstract photograph.”


Many photographers, critics, art historians and others

Have written or spoken about abstract photography without attempting to formalize a specific meaning.

Alvin Langdon Coburn in 1916 proposed that an exhibition be organized with the title “Abstract Photography”, For which the entry form would clearly state that “no work will be admitted in which the interest of the subject matter is greater than the appreciation of the extraordinary.”

The proposed exhibition did not happen, yet Coburn later created some distinctly abstract photographs