Smith Paragraph Madison Dye

Terry Smith’s article “What is Contemporary Art” attempts to define and categorize contemporary art. This is a very difficult task because contemporary art is such a broad and widely debated genre. Smith starts out by saying that many people categorize Contemporary Art as beginning in the 1980’s and including everything from then to the present. He then goes more in depth about the possible complications with such a broad definition and timeline. Smith talks about the major institutions of the art world who have the power to move art in any direction they choose. These institutions include artists, scholars, the public who is viewing the art, action houses, museums, and patrons just to name a few. The ideas, opinions, and tastes of all of these institutions are what categorize art and ultimately move it in the direction of their choosing. One major point that Smith makes is that Contemporary Art does not have a strict set of stylistic guidelines that can categorize it as does almost every other style in the history of art. Smith says that Contemporary Art never looks the same, and some of it doesn’t even look like art at all.

In this article, Smith also attempts to highlight the fact that Contemporary Art is largely tied to social and cultural aspect of a given time and place. He says that regional development is becoming more difficult and complex because  viewer needs to have such a specific local knowledge of a place to understand the artwork coming out of it that it is virtually impossible to keep track of it all. One specific exhibit that Smith talks about when discussing the impact of culture and society is Josephine Meckseper’s installation “The Complete History of Post-contemporary Art” from 2005. In this installation, Meckseper  displays many modern everyday household objects, but shows them as if they are outdated and past tense, after the triumph of capitalism. She is showing that art is losing its power and gradually fading with every new generation.

What I expect from Contemporary Art is that it will be constantly changing and evolving. Contemporary means current or recent, and if a style is going to be labeled contemporary, it is going to have to be able to keep up with the fast moving trends and styles of the art world. I like that Smith mentions that some contemporary art doesnt even look like art because this is very true. In today’s society, there is very little art that is still able to shock the public, whereas back in the day of the greats, art critics and the public were used to a very specific guidelines. Today, an artist can literally do anything and call it art, without such a potential shock value. I expect that contemporary art doesn’t just change sporadically and chaotically, but that it evolves in a way that will move art, especially American art, into a place that it has never gone before, which is quite a daunting and exciting task.

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