What is contemporary art?

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The difference between contemporary art and modern art

There is a widely spread misunderstanding between the terms "Modern", "Modernist" and "Contemporary", especially when they refer to Art. This confusion is not so unexpected if we consider the fact that all of these words mean "something that is happening or referring to nowadays". Well, if we are in the world of Art they have got a completely different meaning. "Modern art" is generally used for the art production made between the huge epoch from 1860 to 1970, whereas the notion "Modernism" or "Modernist" is connected with the intellectual and artistic movements from the early decades of the 20th century. Their art sought new and revolutionary techniques, which could better represent the realities and believes of the modern or future societies. When it comes to "Contemporary art", it just means "art of today or recently made art". Although it sounds self-explanatory, contemporary art has its own historical and philosophical grounds, which could be found in the Avant-garde or the above-mentioned Modernist forms from the beginning of the 20th century. Yet, why it's so hard to define what contemporary art is?

What is contemporary art?

What do we mean by Contemporary Art? Following the Tate Museum definition – "The term contemporary art is loosely used to refer to the art of the present day and of the relatively recent past, of an innovatory or avant-garde nature". But why is so deeply connected with the Avant-Garde movements from a whole century ago? The word manifesto is somehow involved. Why? Well, simply because they usually started with preposterous scandal or public philosophical statement against "the common sense". Or at least with a guilty "verdict" for the western culture and a belief in the necessity of radical social revolution. Not as extreme as its avant-garde predecessors but contemporary art is also deeply entangled with certain conceptual critiques against the bad habits of today's society. It discloses some hidden and inconvenient aspects of today's society. They, of course, include the old-fashioned and conservative artistic forms, methods, and techniques. Briefly said, contemporary art could be defined as a form of social critique and/or an artistic experiment with concepts and techniques. Nowadays, we could use few pages just to list all the branches of Avant-Garde and Contemporary Arts, which are so connected that it would be hard to truly fathom the latter if you don't take the first into account. Bauhaus, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Performance, Installation Art, Conceptualism, Minimalism, Situationism, Surrealism, Land Art, they all-ready sound like brand-names. No matter the fact that some of these forms are relatively old, they are still potent for inspiring and producing art.

Digital and internet art

Another good example of contemporary art is the so-called digital art, or let's say it less precisely – the digital impact upon art, taken on an international level. It includes all these new techniques involving intricate software, 3d-printing, multi-media, social media, and a whole galaxy of cutting-edge possibilities. Today, we live in the real big-bang of individual and various artistic forms, although in a world virtually connected like one big family. Making art became more accessible and a lot easier to be shared. Quantity over quality. Digital over analog. However, these changes could have unpredictable effects not only for the future of Art but of humankind.

Recent Contemporary art movements

It looks like every other day some new artistic tendencies and concepts appear. The world goes on as rapidly as never before. The Stuckist artists, for example, think that conceptual art is exhausted, even dead, and we need new artistic criteria, authenticity, or paradoxically, to go back to the modernist aesthetics. The movements are unnumerable: Altermodern Classical Realism, Cynical realism, Excessivism, Kitsch movement, Post-contemporary, Metamodernism, Superflat, Videogame art, Virtual art, Postinternet, and far more.  We could only imagine, how many more and what would they be. Most probably, we will be able to find some conclusion of the question - what really is contemporary art - in some future researches when we can encompass it from the perspectives of the experience we will have gained and the time that has passed.

Source and inspiration: www.kooness.com

Here you can enjoy a gallery of various contemporary artists' pieces: 

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Saturday, 24 July 2021

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