Terry Smith – Tony McKendry

Terry Smith’s purpose for writing is to find the true meaning of “contemporary art”; at first he defines it as “the institutionalized network through which the art of today presents itself to itself and to its interested audiences around the world”. I find this definition to be interesting, as Smith states that the art only presents itself to (what I assume to be) the contemporary art culture and those who are interested in it, while others are not so enlightened. Contemporary art truly started in the 90’s, but some would argue that it started in the 80’s, or that many pieces of art from various periods of time could be considered contemporary, this is why nailing down a definition is so difficult. The contemporary period followed the postmodern period, which followed the modern period before that.

To many, contemporary art might fall into the same category as pop art, but many contemporary artists would consider themselves to be in a completely different category, although both genres carry many of the same characteristics, especially due to the fact that contemporary art has the added advantage of mass media, which has not always been available throughout time, and is a tool that artists can use to gain exposure for themselves and their work. At the beginning of the reading I was sure Smith would nail down a definition of contemporary art for me, but in the end, Smith was no closer to a definition than she was at the beginning; perhaps contemporary art was meant to remain undefined.

Through this class, I hope to broaden my artistic horizons. I think that knowing art history is extremely important for artists (and everyone else for that matter); knowing your roots is always important. Contemporary art also happens to fall into a category of art that I am not very familiar with, in fact I probably couldn’t name many contemporary artists or works of art, so I’m starting from square one!

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