Andy Burns on Terry Smith

Terry Smith initiates his analysis of Contemporary Art through an examination of its cultural implications.  He suggests that Contemporary Art is first and foremost a network of communication amongst local movements and organizations.  This is certainly an agreeable statement.  Local Contemporary Art scenes are always changing and morphing as they consistently reflect the local trends in culture, and society.  Smith follows this initial analysis with a suggestion that Contemporary Art is a posthistorical installment, and will always lack a unifying theme or trend that categorizes major historical art periods.  This is a suggestion that I am wary to accept.  The presence of an era, I believe, would go unnoticed until after it has occurred.  Such an idea can be seen throughout history.  It would be naïve to say that the 1980s brought about the end of art eras.

Smiths suggestion that Contemporary Art is saturated with arrogance and ignorance towards fundamental questions is another section that I disagree with.  Such a statement seems foolish.  If Smith was around during the impressionists or the surrealist periods he would probably consider Van Gough or Dali to be arrogant, and ignorant of fundamental questions.  Despite this, I do agree with Mr. Smith on his idea that Contemporary Art is more difficult to interpret.  His suggestion that more students engaging in art have made interpretation more difficult was spot on.

The following segments on canons, plurality, and the implication of art “in the now” were relatively agreeable.  I particularly agreed with Smiths analysis of the transformation of modernity to Contemporary Art.  It is certainly feasible to suggest that most Contemporary Art conforms to trends that could soon become old fashioned.  The final comment I would like to make on this article concerns Smiths suggestion that the post colonialism of today restricts the variety of expression in modern art.  It seems to me that Contemporary Art in a postcolonial world would be more diverse than it has in all of history.  Exposure of young artists to Asian, European, and American art forms could lead to a very interesting amount of art to come.

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