Smith Paragraph

Terry Smith’s, “What is Contemporary Art?” begins with specifically addressing the term “Contemporary Art.” Smith then explicates what the term entails, in the form of what structures and formulates the initially vague and ambiguous appellation. It’s then furthered by the assessment that contemporary art is forever changing, as well as, something that will be forever present. Using the Vernissage, Artforum, and the Guggenheim as recognizable exhibitions, magazines, and museums to provide specificity of the commonality and presence it’s taken in our daily lives. This awareness of it in humanity’s collective conscious then goes on to help refine what contemporary art is. Smith states that contemporary art is what we make, it is what we define it as. This ties back to the earlier point in that its always morphing and branching out into newer forms, techniques, styles, etc. Advancing on that point, Smith then deals with the way contemporary art is and what it means is debated and not concrete. Some may see it as art lacking historical context, in that it’s present. While others see it in a very historical context, in that it deals with what is happening in the world in that specific point in time. Another point that’s brought up is that artists must advertise themselves and their work in order to get an audience, this then leads to the problematic solution that some turn to, which is that they get this “attention” through crass and scandalous ways. But there are those who take the different route by giving their work some symbolic and deeper thought to make a statement about the current issues of the world. Smith states this is more important now than ever, because of our increasingly visual and globalized world.


Illustrating the significance of contemporary art in the context of humanity and time is seen when Smith explains that contemporariness is somewhat indefinable or almost impossible to perceive objectively, because obviously we are living in this time. This again circles to the main problem and focus of the chapter. Delving further into what contemporary art is in its current state, Smith states that the art we label as contemporary art today is a culmination of various elements, influences, etc. from what was considered contemporary art in the past. In other words, it has all melded and fused together through time. Smith condenses the arguments aid by restating that contemporary art comes in “currents.” The first being the creative element brought from each specific culture, location and so on. The second being the institutional changes in the social orders in the world and therefore the impacts they’ve had on people. And finally, the third and last being the growing iconographic mindset people have and will develop due to both technology and globalization.
I expect to acquire both knowledge of what contemporary art is and how this subject can both help in my major and hopefully later in life. I think some form of familiarity with art is something that is expected of us in today’s world, and especially and obviously if we are in a field of work that is somewhat related to art. Although now I am a studio arts major I plan to go into architecture. Architecture is not as heavily based on knowledge of famous works of art and or artists, but nonetheless it is still very much influence by it. I hope this class will not only give me the much needed information, but also somewhat of an advantage, in that I’m not solely sticking to one area of art. I also hopes this sparks a curiosity in all mediums that art comes in. Again, this is something I believe will prove to be important in the architecture field. However, all together this interest in art, and more broadly the humanities is something that I think will help formulate a balanced and vast mindset when pursuing any field of work.

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