What is considered contemporary when it comes to fine art

What is considered contemporary when it comes to fine art

In its most basic definition, contemporary art refers to art created now, namely painting, sculpture, photography, installation, performance, and video art. Though apparently straightforward, the subtleties around this word are sometimes hazy since various people’s conceptions of “today” may vary greatly and radically. As a result, the genre’s precise beginnings are still discussed; nevertheless, many art historians believe the late 1960s or early 1970s (the end of contemporary art, or modernism) to be a reasonable approximation.

Major Contemporary Art Movements and Artists Throughout History

You may be surprised to learn that contemporary art has a pretty extensive history, given its “art of today” designation. Let’s look at the significant movements and artists that helped shape its history to see how it evolved.

Contemporary art is said to have originated on the heels of Pop Art, as a response to previous modern art styles. Pop Art was pioneered in postwar Britain and America by artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. It is characterized by a desire to depict popular culture and reimagine commercial objects as accessible art. While the trend lasted approximately from the 1950s to the early 1970s, it was resurrected in the 1980s as Neo-Pop Art courtesy to artists such as Jeff Koons.


Artists working in the Pop Art style aspired to aesthetically recreate items, whilst those interested in the Photorealism movement sought to make hyper realistic drawings and paintings. Photorealists often worked from images, allowing them to replicate faces, landscapes, and other imagery with great accuracy. This is a style that Chuck Close and Gerhard Richter often used.


Pop Art, in turn, influenced Conceptualism, which opposed the notion of art as a product. The idea underlying a piece of art takes primacy in conceptual art. Damien Hirst, Ai Wei Wei, and Jenny Holzer are examples of major conceptual artists. Though this experimental movement has its roots in early-twentieth-century art, it evolved as a formal movement in the 1960s and continues to be an important contemporary art trend today.


Minimalism, like Conceptualism, emerged in the 1960s and is still popular today. Both movements, according to the Tate, “challenged the conventional mechanisms for creating, distributing, and perceiving art.” What distinguishes Minimalism is its basic, abstract aesthetic, which enables viewers to react to what they see rather than what they believe a certain piece of art symbolizes. Minimalist painters include Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Dan Flavin.

Performance art

Performance Art is another trend with Conceptualist origins. Performance art, which gained prominence in the 1960s and continues to do so now, is a drama-inspired approach to art. While the art form is performed by artists (as the name implies), it is not simply for entertainment purposes. Its purpose is to communicate a message or a concept. Marina Abramovi, Yoko Ono, and Joseph Beuys are among the most prominent performance artists.

Installation Art

Installation art, like performance art, is an immersive medium of art. Installations are three-dimensional structures that modify viewers’ sense of space by transforming their surroundings. They are often large-scale and site-specific, allowing artists to convert any place into a personalized, participatory setting. Yayoi Kusama, Dale Chihuly, and Bruce Munro are among the well-known installation artists.

Earth Art

Earth Art (or Land Art) is a trend in which artists turn natural environments into site-specific works of art. It is a unique take on installation art. The avant-garde earthworks by Robert Smithson, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and Andy Goldsworthy are well-known.

Street Art

Street art, one of the most recent contemporary art styles, sprang to popularity with the advent of graffiti in the 1980s. Street art, which is often founded in social action, comprises murals, installations, stenciled pictures, and stickers constructed in public places. Street artists of note include individuals from the 1980s such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, as well as contemporary artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey.

Contemporary art gains more attention along with time

Contemporary art is always growing, and more artists are using modern technologies to expand their creativity. This includes code-generated art, which may create everything from abstract works to futuristic vector portraits. As artificial intelligence progresses, some artists are utilizing it to produce hyperrealistic portraits that push the boundaries between truth and fantasy.

Since 2020, crypto art, which makes use of blockchain technology, has been gaining traction. With digital artist Beeple’s $69 million sale of his NFT collage at Christie’s, more artists and fine art institutions are discovering the potential in this kind of work. Crypto art enables digital artists to monetize work that was previously impossible to sell. The rise of non-traditional forms of art (NFT) is enabling artists who produce transitory works—whether installations, performances, or murals—to be rewarded and collected in previously unheard-of ways.

What Is the Future of Contemporary Art?

While some of the artists we’ve discussed are no longer alive or unable to practice, many of the aforementioned greats, including but not limited to Damien Hirst, Ai Wei Wei, Marina Abramovi, Yayoi Kusama, and Jeff Koons, continue to create avant-garde works of painting, sculpture, installation, and performance art.

In addition to these well-known personalities, numerous emerging modern artists are awe-inspiring the globe with their unique approaches to art. In addition to putting their own spins on traditional forms like painting, sculpture, and installation, they’ve promoted unexpected forms of art like needlework, origami, and tattoos, demonstrating the genre’s limitless potential.

Final words

Now you have a good understanding of what contemporary art is all about. While keeping that in mind, it is also possible for you to take a look at the basics of fine art. You can continue to explore both contemporary art and fine art, as they will provide some outstanding experiences to you in the long run. If you are an art lover, this is something that you will fall in love with. 

Eliza beth

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