"Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential."
Abstract art does not depict a person, place, or thing of the world. Composition, color, shapes, brushstrokes, size, scale and simply the steps to create comprises Abstract painting. Works that don't have a "thing" allow for the viewer to engage with the work in a powerful way -- usually form and color become the "object" of the piece.
Where did it come from exaclty? Franz Kline was an American painter mostly known for his black and white paintings. He was considered an Action Painter. Wassily Kandinsky - Kandinsky is considered the father of abstract painting. In an effort to capture sound and emotion in art, he painted some of the first major abstract works.
Abstract art uses a visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.