Terry Smith: What is Contemporary Art? by Alysia Davis

Terry Smith Article

“What is Contemporary Art?” In Terry Smith’s book, What Is Contemporary Art, the answer to this question is complex and continually evolving. Contemporary Art involves a relationship between history and the present. Although Smith describes Contemporary Art as existing outside of time, the way that we understand art of the present is to build up our knowledge of art history. Historical context “can offer to an understanding of the present (245).” The Contemporary artist often battles to be seen beyond the shadows of past artists and artistic movements. Part of the excitement and challenge involved in Contemporary Art is to think of new ways or art-making that haven’t been seen before.

Reflecting culture, media, politics, and the environment of the artist, Contemporary Art is subject to the present tense of history itself – we are in the middle of the conversation of current art practices. The likelihood of another pre-dominant art style becomes slim as the globalization of Contemporary Art expands and regionalism falls in importance to content, context, and medium. Technology and new modes of communication inspire the need to change how we categorize and understand the art of “now”. In our visually oriented society, images and the “iconomy”  link the artist and audience together, providing an “aesthetic experience” for the patrons of art.

Understanding Contemporary Art is to understand what it means to live in the present. An explosion of artists, styles, and cultures makes the task of categorizing nearly impossible. I believe rather than creating a new “ism” for artistic movements, Contemporary Art will be understood through context and materials. For instance, as a sculpture studio art major I do not ask a peer what art style they adhere to, I ask what their medium is, or what they are interested in for content or topics. However, if I were to name a style that I understand to having rules and sub-styles, I believe that “Street Art” or Graffiti is a art culture that has taken over world wide, making it a possible contender for the newest category in dominant Contemporary Art styles.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: