Smith

In “What is Contemporary Art” Smith works to define the distinction of “contemporary” and further analyze the relationship between work considered contemporary art and the globalization effect that art has gained within modern society. Smith does this by initially defining contemporary art empirically in terms of chronology.  From this smith then explores the concept that perhaps contemporary art occupies the niche of art removed from time. Raising the question at which point contemporary works cease to be contemporary works and become history? This is a unique view as this highlights an ambiguity within the taxonomy of art; in which the ability for work to thoroughly and historically be evaluated is diminished. As not enough time has passed to objectively look at social and political events which parallel a work. From a historical standpoint this ambiguity furthers the question to what extent is contemporary art timeless or removed from time?

Parallel with this key point smith analyzes how contemporary art has a heavy foundation in movements and artistic periods past. Smith highlights that minimalistic and modernistc components frequently resonate in contemporary art even-though these periods are long passed. In addition Smith cites the phenomenon of works being generated about history and the socio-political impact of a historical event that is also long passed. These key points further the timeless or removed from time quality that contemporary work has. in addition Smith further investigates the globalization effect of contemporary art and how art has become more publicly viewed and more easily accessible to viewers as society has become media driven and exposure to visual media is near constant. From this Smith notes that contemporary art is truly unique as it has impacted people much more than art of the past mobilizing both nationalists and localists, and expanding out of the borders of individual countries. This is due to the fact that contemporary art is innately ingrained in society via pop culture, history, and cultural customs; in this way contemporary art has changed the game of traditional classification of art as an educated traditional view is not always necessary to interpret the work as work may utilize iconism, thus the average man may in fact interpret a work more thoroughly than a scholar if the scholar has not been paying attention to modern events or pop culture.  Smith then proceeds to evaluate how contemporary art differs in its variety of media as well as location, as curators and museums promising publicity have encouraged the growth of contemporary art. In addition smith discusses how curators seek to understand the subtext and subtle currents within a work as a means of properly displaying the work; highlighting how they can control the message or impact of a work within a particular setting.

The things that i personally can take from this reading are that contemporary art is innately unique in how it is progressive yet can still effectively elicit techniques and styles from previous periods within a work. In addition i learned how artists may fall prey to the trickster effect in which they present art with a public message/ commentary yet still push personal agendas and thoughts onto the viewer, in addition to seeking recognition as a public servent of sorts. Overall this article showed me the ambiguity within art and how in my opinion contemporary art is distorted as we have to guess at which artworks will be noted for having future historical significance. From this class i hope to gain a better understanding of contemporary art and generate a more through and concrete personal definition of contemporary art, and it’s impact.

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