What Exactly Is Contemporary Art?
In its most basic sense, the term contemporary art refers to art. But more importantly it applies itself to, painting, sculpture, photography, installation, performance, and video art. Though seemingly simple, the details surrounding this definition are often a bit fuzzy, as different individuals' interpretations of “today” may widely and wildly vary. Therefore, the exact starting point of the genre is still debated; however, many art historians consider the late 1960s or early 1970s (the end of modern art or modernism) to be an adequate estimate. Given its “art of today” definition, you may be surprised to hear that contemporary art actually has a relatively long history. To trace its evolution, let's take a look at the major movements and important artists that compose its history.Intended as a reaction to preceding modern art movements, contemporary art is thought to have begun on the heels of Pop Art. In post-war Britain and America, Pop Art was pioneered by artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. It is defined by an interest in portraying mass culture and reimagining commercial products as accessible art. While the movement lasted roughly from the 1950s through the early 1970s, it was reborn as Neo-Pop Art n the 1980s thanks to artists like Jeff Koons.Much like artists working in the Pop Art style sought to artistically reproduce objects, those involved with Photorealism —a concurrent movement—aimed to create hyperrealistic drawings and paintings. Photorealists often worked from photographs, which enabled them to accurately reproduce portraits, landscapes, and other iconography. Chuck Close and Gerhard Richter often worked in this style.
Contemporary art is continuously evolving and more artists are taking advantage of new technology to further their creativity. This includes code-generated art , which can produce everything from abstract pieces to futuristic vector portraits. As advances in artificial intelligence continue, some artists are using the technology to create hyperrealistic portraits that test the boundary between reality and imagination.
Crypto Art, which takes advantage of blockchain technology, has been picking up steam since 2020. With digital artist Beeple making a landmark $69 million sale at christies‘s with his NFT collage, more artists and fine art institutions are seeing the possibilities in this form of art. Crypto art is allowing digital artists to monetize work that may have been previously difficult to sell. The boom in NFT art is allowing artists who create ephemeral pieces— whether installations, performances, or murals—to be compensated and collected in a manner that was previously unheard of.
While some of the artists we've looked at are either no longer alive or unable to practice, many aforementioned greats, including—but not limited to—Damien Hirst, Ai Wei Wei, Marina Abramović, Yayoi Kusama, and Jeff Koons, continue to create avant-garde works of painting, sculpture, installation, and performance art.
In addition to these famous figures, many up-and-coming contemporary artists are stunning the world with their original approach to art. On top of putting their own twists on conventional forms like painting, sculpture, and installation, they've also popularized unexpected forms of art, and tattoos, embroidery origami, proving the endless possibilities of the all-encompassing genre.
This colorful abstract oil on smoked wood painting, titled 'Ciudad Abstracta II' (Abstract City II), was created by Rodolfo Cué, a Mexican artist and architect who lives and works in Xalapa, Veracruz. Born in 1976, he began his career as a painter exhibiting his works in Oaxaca in 1998 and art galleries in Mexico, and most recently in New York at the Museum Of Natural History. Since childhood he has been interested in art. He is self taught and has developed his own techniques using his hands and a variety of waste product and natural materials from the earth, combined with oil and acrylic paints. This year’s collection is being presented in Oaxaca is works on recycled materials with oils and his own unique process. Rodolfo’s works emanates fun and a fine line between figuration and abstraction, making you smile.
Artist: Rodolfo Cue
Title: Ciudad Abstracta II (Abstract City II)
Size/Dimensions: 20" (height) x 20" inches (width)
Medium: Oil on Smoked Wood
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