The Ins and outs of contemporary art?
Art, being a vital component of civilization, is continually flourishing and adapting to a changing reality. However, when it comes to today’s art, the concept of contemporary art is so broad that defining it has proven difficult. What does it mean to be “contemporary”?
By its very nature, the word ‘contemporary art’ is eclectic and comprehensive, including a wide range of forms, genres, and creative approaches, and is loosely applied to work created today and in the recent past. While some claim that contemporary art arose from early twentieth-century avant-garde groups and the beginnings of Modernism, others argue that contemporary art arose on the eve of the 1950s, following World War II. Others define contemporary art as work created during the 1970s, while a third group believes that art can only be considered ‘current’ if it is created by living artists.
Contemporary art is primarily characterized by diversity: diversity of material, shape, and subject matter, resulting in a world of visual complexity and richness that presents viewers with interpretive problems.
A Brief Overview of Contemporary Art
There are a variety of approaches to exploring the intriguing world of contemporary art. The evolution and succession of many creative trends; the personalities of the important participants in the field; and, of course, the most famous artworks that have characterized our age may all be considered. However, investigating significant exhibits that generated fundamental shifts in the art historical canon and impacted the history and habits of exhibition-making via new approaches may provide an equally intriguing viewpoint.
Explore the history of contemporary art via exhibits that established totally new genres and had a lasting influence on the trajectory of art history:
Paris, 1938, International Surrealist Exhibition
Many Surrealist group exhibits had preceded it, and many more would follow – from Tokyo to Mexico City – but the one held at the Galérie Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1938 was without a doubt the genre’s pinnacle. It not only represented the pinnacle of the surrealist movement during the pivotal interwar period, but it also foreshadowed the groundbreaking notion of an art display as an immersive experience by nearly three decades.
New York City’s Ninth Street Show, 1951
The 1951 Ninth Street Art Show of Paintings and Sculpture – sometimes known simply as the Ninth Street Show – was the exhibition that cemented New York’s position as the world’s art center.
This significant show was a major milestone in the course of American contemporary art, initiating the first distinctly American movement to attain international resonance, Abstract Expressionism, 38 years after the presentation of European avant-garde to a bewildered American public.
London, 1956, This Is Tomorrow
This is Tomorrow was a game-changing exhibition in a number of ways. In 1956, it was held at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and it not only introduced an original collaborative and cross-disciplinary technique, but it also pushed the bounds of current visual culture by launching British Pop. Although Pop Art is most commonly identified with the United States, it began in Britain as a critical and sarcastic response to postwar consumer culture in the late 1950s, with This is Tomorrow serving as a significant starting point.
What Are the Best Places to Look for Contemporary Art?
From contemporary art museums to private collections and commercial contemporary art galleries, many art institutions across the world specialize in acquiring, conserving, and showing modern art. Many of these have become destinations in and of themselves, with the almost miraculous ability to boost the economies of downtrodden cities – a phenomenon dubbed the “Bilbao effect” after the iconic Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, which made both its architect Gehry and the Basque city famous around the world.
Here is a list of notable contemporary art museums with outstanding collections that are well worth visiting:
New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MoMA) is one of the world’s largest and most important museums of modern art, located on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Many believe MoMA’s collection to be the finest collection of contemporary Western classics on the planet, with over 150,000 distinct works (along with around 22,000 films and 4 million film stills). Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Matisse’s The Dance I, Malevich’s White on White, and Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon are among the treasures in the collection.
London’s Tate Modern
Tate Modern, together with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives, is part of the Tate network and contains a collection of British and worldwide modern and contemporary art from 1900 to today. Tate Modern, on the south bank of the Thames in London, opened in May 2000 and is housed in the old Bankside Power Station.
Shanghai’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
The MOCA is Shanghai’s first non-profit, autonomous contemporary art organization, founded in 2005 by the Samuel Kung Foundation to offer a platform for displaying Chinese and international contemporary artists. The exhibition building is Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects’ redevelopment of an abandoned greenhouse in People’s Park: geometric glass volumes were added to the structure, breaking the original glass pavilion’s predictable shape. MoCA Envisage, the museum’s biennial exhibition, focuses on Chinese contemporary art and explores its current direction and subjects.
Paris’s Centre Pompidou
The Centre Pompidou is a multi-cultural complex in the centre of Paris, in the vibrant Beaubourg neighborhood. The centre houses France’s national collection of art dating from 1905 to the present day on its 4th and 5th floors and was designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers as one of the first major examples of ‘inside-out’ architecture – the structural, mechanical, and circulation systems are exposed on the exterior of the building – and opened to the public in 1977.
- The Inhotim
The Inhotim (Institute of Inhotim) is an open-air museum in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil. It was formed in 2004 to house the private art collection of former mining billionaire Bernardo Paz and opened to the public in 2006. It is one of Brazil’s greatest modern art foundations. The collection is dispersed around a 5,000-acre floral landscape in two dozen art pavilions. Over 500 pieces by well-known Brazilian and international artists, including Hélio Oiticica, Yayoi Kusama, Anish Kapoor, Thomas Hirschhorn, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Steve McQueen, Cildo Meireles, and Vik Muniz, are on display in the pavilions.
If you want to learn more about contemporary art, make sure that you visit any of these locations. Then you can get the best experience with learning more about contemporary art.