Trying to define contemporary art isn’t as difficult as you might think, once you take a look at the themes behind it and delve into the fascinating history of modern, or contemporary art.
So What Is Contemporary Art?
Art produced today is basically what can be defined as contemporary art, and that includes not just paintings but other mediums too, such as photography, sculpture, and performance and video art by contemporary artists. Of course, your definition of ‘today’ might be different from the next person’s, meaning that the details surrounding the definition perhaps aren’t as clear as they might be. The late 1960s is seen as the end of modernism or modern art, and many art experts consider contemporary art to have its beginnings at that time.
Important Artists and Movements
Contemporary art has a longer history than you might think, notwithstanding its definition of ‘being of today.’ There are dozens of movements and hundreds of artists that comprise its history; here we take a look at some of the most important.
Pop Art is often considered to be the main forerunner to contemporary art, and artists including Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol attempted to convey popular culture partly as a reaction to those movements that had gone before. Pop Art had a rebirth as neo-Pop Art in the 1980s because of the works of artists such as Jeff Koons, although the original movement lasted from the 1950s until the ’70s.
Chuck Close is one of the best-known names in this art movement, which focused on the creation of incredibly realistic drawings and paintings – so realistic they looked like a photograph. In fact, the photorealists were better able to reproduce landscapes and portraits by working directly from photographs.
This largely experimental movement surfaced in the 1960s and was influenced to a large extent by Pop Art. The campaign attempted to have art seen as more of an idea than a commodity and suggested that the most important aspect of a work of art was the idea behind it. Conceptualism has remained popular ever since the 1960s. Jenny Holzer, Ai Wei Wei, and Damien Hirst are some of the most well known contemporary artists embracing the ideas of Conceptualism.
Another movement which is still going strong today and had its roots in the 1960s, Minimalism challenges anyone looking at art to see it differently, in that rather than trying to figure out what something means, they respond to what they see. The movement is known for its general and simple aesthetic and has been described as challenging the existing structures for making, analyzing and viewing art. Some of the better known minimalist artists around today include Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, and Donald Judd.
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