What is Contemporary Art?

Bruce Kenyon

Terry smith defines Contemporary Art as the “institutionalized network through which the art of today presents itself to itself and to its interested audiences all over the world.” Through museums, galleries, art fairs, auction sales, biennials, magazines websites etc…we find a new and evolving presence of art in society that is not going to go away but will continue to change. This art is tied to the economy and influences design, fashion, tourism and also effects reform and change in politics, education and media. In the past decade museums have been springing up after a post 9/11 halt. These museums are being led by contemporary art. Contemporary Art is “saturated with a deep detailed ( but not always systematic) knowledge of art “history.” Art is aware of art histories purpose within history, and responses to history itself.

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Terry Smith’s “What is Contemporary Art?” Response

In this piece “What is Contemporary Art?” by Terry Smith, Smith provides a definition for what contemporary art is. Smith states that although contemporary art has many different definitions, it seems to define itself. Smith also states, contemporary art “is what we say it is, it is what we do, it is the art that we show, that we buy and sell, that we promote and interpret”. Contemporary art is also affected by society and society is affected by it, making it a very important part of society today. Because of this it is also able to spread world wide through many different societies and cultures throughout the world, such as tourism or even mass media. It is roughly defined as the same kind of art throughout the globe bringing artists from all over together, which also makes it almost impossible to define contemporary art as one specific style like past art movements.

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Smith Paragraphs

“What Is Contemporary Art?” by Terry Smith, seeks to explore the different possibilities of how to explain, interpret and categorize contemporary art. Most simply, Smith states that “it is what we say it is, it is what we do, it is the art that we show, that we buy and sell, that we promote and interpret”. Contemporary art is an important part of the social world today in many ways, from mass media to museums and architecture. It affects the society around it and is also affected by it. One of the challenges of interpretation of contemporary art that Smith talks about is the fact that it is coming from around the globe, from all different societies and viewpoints and understandings of the world. This is one contributing factor to the idea that contemporary art cannot be explained by any specific trend in style.

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