Abt began to paint at the age of 12 and, with the support of his parents, enrolled in the Pforzheim Kunstgewerbeschule. In 1917 Abt was called into military service, effectively ending his studies. After the end of World War I, he was apprenticed to a goldsmith. It was not until 1928 that he again began to study painting, at the Landeskunstschule in Karlsruhe. In 1935 he returned to Pforzheim and began working as a self-employed artist. He gained recognition primarily for his naturalistic landscapes and flower paintings.