Smith Paragraph

In Terry Smith’s article, “What is Contemporary Art?”,  contemporary art is portrayed as a relatively new, complex form of expression that is subject to consistent change and recognizes the present, not as a defined time period, but as being in a state of flux.  It attempts to capture the history—religion, politics, economics, pop culture– of the present before it disappears.  It reacts to the time at hand and makes strides towards progress.  It is art constructed by and for the world, and does not simply capture local or international values, but rather the multitude of various networks and relationships found between them.  Contemporary art serves as a means for trendsetting, and is a force in a cultural agenda.  It follows the post-modern era of art; its origins often recognized after the Second World War.  It uses touches of previously defined artistic practices in order to promote new, unique self-definition and self-representation.

The previous distinction of “high art” and “low art” forms has faded, and contemporary art takes full advantage of this to develop a creative stance beyond anything seen before.  Smith notes that the word “contemporary” reflects the concept of being “out of time”; it conceptualizes a state beyond what has been or what will be known.  Since the 1950’s and 1960’s, Smith states, that each decade has offered completely new, distinct changes to the expression of art.  Contemporary artists invoke a vitalized sense of artwork, and a heightened awareness for the strength of the present.  There are three “currents” that Smith notes are affecting and producing contemporary art: globalization, decolonization, and a generational shift.  Contemporary art is more diverse than ever seen before and reflects the many aspects of global relational levels.  Through this, it is being made all over the world and can be compared and contrasted thusly.  Younger artists are arising to become a member of the contemporary art generation, and their youth is reflected in the artwork they develop.  Smith offers three loose categories of contemporary art: remodernism, retro-sensationalist, spectacularist.  Contemporary art is paradoxical in the sense that is perpetuates a modern culture through the act of remodernization.  It seems to have no limits, no boundaries, and no signs of stopping.

To be honest, my personal experience with art history is minimal.  I am a Psychology major/Education minor and, due to educational requirements, have had very little experience with art at a college level.  I hope to find the journey through contemporary art to be challenging and rewarding.  At the end of the semester, I expect to have a more defined and comprehensive grasp on what contemporary art is, and a much deeper, insightful, and critical perspective on the art forms in which it presents itself.  I am enthusiastic and willing to absorb all that this expression of art has to offer.

Contemporary Art Keywords

1. Currents

2. Paradox

3. Flux

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