Smith Summary/Response

Terry Smith begins with an accepted answer from the 1980s as to what Contemporary Art is, “[it] is the institutionalized network through which the art of today presents itself to itself and to its interested audiences all over the world.” He continues on about it, speaking of things leading to the present. The Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao being the “paradigm of what a contemporary …building should be. In general terms, he has contemporary art being “today’s art” and thus distinct from the predecessors modern and postmodern art.

A problem of how to categorize today’s art past “contemporary” arises. At what point does the contemporary art become history, for “contemporary history is an oxymoron.” As with previous art, we can link the old with the new, comparing the contemporary works of someone to minimalism, modernism, etc., but we cannot just place them in the categories because they also deal with an era. As an artist, I am not sure if I want to be labeled and placed in a genre or movement if I don’t feel I am a part of it; some would argue Manet is not an impressionist, it does not lessen the quality of his work.  What I find to be a bigger issue and what attracted me the most about Smith’s writing was his “The Trickster Effect,” pointing out issues with today’s art/artists. “[Contemporary art] can seem the most baffling, hermetic, and crazy of all the arts, a sideshow of bad faith, and a self-serving, elitist enterprise that precipitates mistrust among broader publics.” Then an excerpt of Peter Timms from his What’s Wrong With Contemporary Art? goes on to say, “If art has become little more than a commodity in the global marketplace,… is measured by the amount of publicity it generates, what does this tell us about the role of the visual arts in our culture?”

I am taking this course because I want to see it differently than what was mentioned. I often find that much of contemporary art is “a sideshow of bad faith” and a pursuit for the royal dollar. What happened to “art for art’s sake?” I am disgusted at the idea that “Artists and curators, knowing that their careers depend on attracting attention to themselves at any cost, are increasingly turning to visual gags, titillation, public scandal or platitudinous commentaries on newsworthy social issues, under the pretence of challenging public perceptions.” I hope to find new artists during this course that make me believe art is still on a decent path.

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