“What is Contemporary Art?” Response- mark lewenauer

Terry Smith writes that contemporary art is a worldwide phenomenon, closely tied to industries such as fashion and design.  Smith feels contemporary art is very important to the community itself, and the world.  Post-modernism may be synonymous with contemporary art.  Smith’s major distinction between historical and contemporary art is the fact that contemporary art is not complete yet.  Modern art is thought to be a completely ended era.  Contemporary art is still forming, and thus is everything we presently do, make, say, think.  There is no formal definition, because the period is not over and considered historical.  Smith states that minimalism and conceptualism have no real successors in historical art, and are scenes that belong to post-modern, contemporary art.

Smith then goes on to point out that contemporary art is more tied to markets, popular culture, and money than historical art was.  “barkers,” people who promote themselves, make large statements about what their contemporary art may represent, but the art itself may do only little to articulate the idea the barker is trying to communicate.  The increasing ties to the art market may confound the underlying product of art by causing artists to focus more on their careers than the quality of work.

Smith defines the currents in contemporary art as globalization, decolonization, and the increase in youth involved in the image economy.  Each one of these currents, Smith believes, affects the nature of contemporary art.  Globalization allows artists to be exposed to many differents styles of art they may not have seen before, thanks to technology making the world smaller and smaller.  Decolonization of third world countries allows the traditional art of those countries to possibly be rediscovered by the citizens or natives of that country, and may influence the post-modern.  The large amount of young people in the image economy seems to broaden the definition of art greatly, through the use of new media and technology.  Contemporary art may not just be a sculpture, photograph, or painting.

I enjoyed this article.  I agree with the self-promotional identity of artists today.  The easiest example is hip-hop artists.  I think this is a part of the contemporary culture that needs to change.  a scene that celebrates itself will probably not be acknowledged historically.  The quality of the art is what grows in value over time, not the extravagant measures taken to promote it.  I believe the currents mentioned by Smith are great observations of how contemporary events and cultures are directly reflected in art.  I believe that with the overwhelming amounts of information available to people today, contemporary art is going to be extremely heterogenous.  People can select any kind of information they want more than ever before from anywhere in the world, and thus they can shape their psyche and creative output into almost anything these days.  Post-modernism.  Anything goes.

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