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Terri Smith’s writing “What is Contemporary Art?” prods deep into the different perspectives concerning what the recent category of art is and will become. The first perspective explained is that the art form is classified as being art historical, with a return and embracement of styles of the past. This also ties in with the post historical idea, insisting that the past, specifically Modernism, is the ultimate guide to the work of Contemporary artists. Periodlessness is introduced, being both extremely troubling to some and a relief to others. This thought consists of an end to any artistic period, instead resulting in the end of any original art to be reflected on in the future. Smith, as well as others introduced in the writing, is concerned that artists of today are driven merely on attention and self-promotion than leaving a mark on art history, and could perhaps result in such an ending. Peter Timms explains a “trickster effect,” one which involves artists acting as elitists that look down on those who question the motives or validity of their art.

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Smith article

What is contemporary art? It is art that is ever changing through the decades and reflects what is occurring around the artist during that time. It can be a reflection of events in society to present and past history, it is considered “always present but without a past or future.” Museums and media help to spread the awareness of artistic movements and works which is good for society because the minds of people deserve to be fed knowledge beyond what words can say. Smith mentioned that contemporary art can be the end of an era of history or the start, however it is still timeless.

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Terry Smith’s, “What is Contemporary Art?” begins with specifically addressing the term “Contemporary Art.” Smith then explicates what the term entails, in the form of what structures and formulates the initially vague and ambiguous appellation. It’s then furthered by the assessment that contemporary art is forever changing, as well as, something that will be forever present. Using the Vernissage, Artforum, and the Guggenheim as recognizable exhibitions, magazines, and museums to provide specificity of the commonality and presence it’s taken in our daily lives. This awareness of it in humanity’s collective conscious then goes on to help refine what contemporary art is. Smith states that contemporary art is what we make, it is what we define it as. This ties back to the earlier point in that its always morphing and branching out into newer forms, techniques, styles, etc. Advancing on that point, Smith then deals with the way contemporary art is and what it means is debated and not concrete. Some may see it as art lacking historical context, in that it’s present. While others see it in a very historical context, in that it deals with what is happening in the world in that specific point in time. Another point that’s brought up is that artists must advertise themselves and their work in order to get an audience, this then leads to the problematic solution that some turn to, which is that they get this “attention” through crass and scandalous ways. But there are those who take the different route by giving their work some symbolic and deeper thought to make a statement about the current issues of the world. Smith states this is more important now than ever, because of our increasingly visual and globalized world.

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