“What is Contemporary Art”

In the article “What is Contemporary Art” Terry Smith aims to define the ever-changing movement known as Contemporary Art. Smith explains the “posthistorical” approach to highlight the motives of Contemporary artist. This involves using “unresolved legacies” from art of the 1950s and 1960s that question societies obsession with the superficial or visceral. Smith argues that because our cultures are so fixated and stimulated by various forms of media, these legacies are even more so prevalent today. For this reason, Contemporary artist struggle to please society (with constant references to popular culture), as well as the elite of the art world.

Smith believes because there has been such a tremendous shift in the types of mediums utilized, no style has dominated enough to label a new art movement. Often, society is so overwhelmed by the obscurity and invasive quality of these innovative mediums; they rarely question the underlying meaning of Contemporary Art. In the end, each Contemporary artist redefines how the world views art. For this reason Contemporary Art will continue to evolve and challenge the intellectuality of its audience.

I expect Contemporary Art to confront my perception of modern society. I want it to question the virtues of our culture and make me think of my role within it. I believe that if art can strike a personal chord with the viewer, then it should be celebrated.

Camille Paley

One Response

  1. Terry Smith’s definition of contemporary art is often contradictive. He goes into many definitions of what contemporary art is and what it means, much of what he says also relates to modernism, postmodernism, avant-garde and ect. He throws out many terms to emphasis different roles of contemporary art, many opposing factors. One of the most essential elements is the issue of time within contemporary art, considering the artist’s perspective on existing within modernity, traditionalism and yet “outside” of history itself. Arguably all of these elements exist together.
    Furthermore, Smith mentions frequently that contemporary artists are “recycling” the past, using images similar to Andy Warhol’s pieces that are dedicated to iconic faces and neon colors. Going further into this matter, Smith mentions the plight of the contemporary artist, which lies in the capitalism within art. While some artists challenge the concept of “image economy” others embrace it and use this to gain massive profits. Then the question of contemporary art is partly based on the worth of art as a purchase or as a piece. Smith also mentions the importance of globalization in art, art explored in an international level of substance.
    I personally don’t have much of a clue of what I would expect of contemporary art. I have often found it pretentious and obnoxious, but still valuable and intriguing. Perhaps I expect it to be aesthetically pleasing in a different way than traditional arts, while still grasping the concepts of traditionalism in art. I expect it to contain meaning, something in depth and bold. I often feel that contemporary artists have access to freedoms that traditional artists did not, as in they are able to explore new mediums and meanings within their art. Perhaps what I expect most from contemporary art is the synthesis of technology and art used to create masterpieces. Perhaps the most intriguing pieces of art for me are those, which embrace our technological future and twist it into something completely new and valuable

    Anna Cook

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