Towards Abstraction: Where Did Reality Go?

Explore how artists used abstraction to express new ideas – and use digital tools to create your own abstract art.

  • Education type Education visit
  • Duration 1 hour
  • Suitable for Years 7–13
  • Next available Available now
  • Cost $6.50 per student. Free for teachers and parent helpers
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This programme is currently on hold while new exhibitions are installed.


In the 20th century, some artists moved away from representing the world around them in a realistic way. Why did they do this, and how did it liberate them?

Using art works on display in Te Papa’s new galleries, students explore how artists used line, colour, and form to move from realism to abstraction.

In Hīnātore, our learning lab, students use drawing activities to disrupt how they see reality. Afterwards, they can use digital art tools to express their creativity and explore the move from realism to abstraction.



Rebecca Baumann, Automated colour field (variation 8), 2017, 140 flip clocks, laser-cut paper, batteries. Photograph by Maarten Holl. Te Papa