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Contemporary Art

Contemporary Art

Tammy July 4, 2006 0 comments

Tam_side_lyns Tammy Vitale of Tam’s Originals Working on Solstice in February in her garage studio.Solstice Note coat.You cannot see very cold hands.  Solstice installed.

In ArtDaily today there were three articles referencing "contemporary" art:  A New Strategy for Contemporary Visual arts, news from England, notes, "Over the past fifteen years, there has been a transformation in public perception and enjoyment of contemporary visual art, from painting, sculpture [sic] to digital and live art.  The Turning Point strategy and the independent review demonstrate the exceptional successes of the visual arts in attracting large and growing participation across the country."  New Positions in Contemporary African Photography , Snap Jusgments:  New Positions In Contemporary African Photography,  wishes to create "recognition of African photographers and their unique visual language …[rather then the usual] pathological images of disease, corruption, and poverty."   Selections from the Contemporary’s Flat Files (Contemporary Museum of St. Louis, MO), is interested in making "the talent of Midwest artists more visible and acessible."

Do you know the definition of "contemporary art?  I didn’t, do I went to Wikipedia which is an unending font of information and enlightenment.  I’ll share [click over if you want to use the links embedded in the article since they will not work in the below article) it with you here:

"The term contemporary art generally refers to today’s art. The use of the literal adjective "contemporary" to define this period in art history is partly due to the lack of any distinct or dominant school of art as recognized by artists, art historians and critics. It tends to include art made from the late 1960s to the present, or after the supposed or putative end of modern art or the Modernist period (however, artists are making "modern art" today, just as they are making art in practically all past styles or modes). Art made or performed since Modernism is also sometimes called postmodern art, but as postmodernism can refer to both a historical timeframe and an aesthetic approach, and many contemporary artists’ work does not exhibit some of the key elements of the postmodern aesthetic, "contemporary" may be preferred as a more inclusive adjective.

"Perhaps the most defining aspect of contemporary art is its indefinability. Prior to the late 1960s, most artwork could be categorized fairly easily into one particular medium or a specific school. Even through the 1970s and 80s, one can see certain trends such as Conceptual Art, Performance Art, Pop Art, Graffiti Art. Art after the Modern Era has transformed along with the large-scale economic, global, political, and socio-cultural change. The growing speed of the transference of ideas, money, information and culture around the globe seems to be happening within art worlds as well. Many of the boundaries and distinctions within Art have loosened.

"Contemporary art should not be confused with the workings of modern art, although the trends and movements in contemporary practice may directly refer to modernism. Much of the direction of modern art involved exploring the very basis of painting, for instance, color, brush stroke, and canvas. Philosopher and art critic Arthur Danto has asserted that modernism (as well as "art history" itself) came to its end with the making of Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes, which functioned as art yet were largely indistinguishable from their real life counterparts. These sculptures therefore marked the end of any pretense that art had some essential and objectively discernible trait that separated it from non-art objects.

"Similarly, Donald Kuspit has labelled contemporary practices that fail to demonstrate historically evidenced artistic qualities as post-art. He criticizes socially-oriented art, exemplified by the work of Rirkrit Tiravanija and Jeremy Deller, for replacing: high culture with mass appeal, autonomy with homogeneity, mystery with transparency, skill with chance creativity, dialectic with dialogue, and “refinement of the unconscious” with spectacle. In the last case, this reminds one of Michael Fried’s disdain for Minimalist theatricality as being an instance of heavy-handed rhetoric. For Kuspit, as well as Danto, artistic categorization “is possible only on the basis of working knowledge of the past…looking to the past for inspiration,” looking specifically to what “post-art” supposedly does not contain, which is beauty. Most emphatically, Kuspit laments the disappearance of the “sacred studio” and the move to the "noisy public street".

"One notable characteristic of Contemporary art is that it often engages matters and issues that presently affect the world. Cloning, politics, economics, issues of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, human rights, war or perhaps even the high price of bread being sold locally. This emphasis on politics, though not entirely new, does seem to have intensified. Historically, art was more closely aligned with aesthetic notions of beauty, purity and transcendence. It was identified with higher thoughts–not politics. Distinctions, however, may be made between politically-motivated art with activist purposes and socially-oriented art with political implications. Fundamentally, the conceptual basis of socially-oriented art is that a social formation may be taken as the art-object, with the result that the physical distance between artist and audience is collapsed through a project’s participatory, collaborative structure. This aesthetic shift has been defined variously by contemporary art theorists as relational (Nicolas Bourriaud), connective (Suzi Gablik), and dialogic (Grant Kester).

"Contemporary art often also crosses the boundaries of medium; it is not limited by materials or methodology. It may or may not use traditional forms such as painting, drawing, and sculpture but may engage performance, installation, video and employ any variety of materials or readymade objects. Since the modernist days of the first half of the 20th century, art has also engaged post-modernism, neo-conceptualism, High art Lite (the Young British Artists movement (YBAs) of the mid nineties), as well as multi-culturalist work within the post-postmodern. It often engages a multi-disciplinary discourse, utilizing a diverse body of skills and peoples to ultimately engage the mass with a substantial, and sometimes provocative discourse pertaining to the relevant issues shaping the world right now. It is continually engaging, and affecting the boundaries of perception."

Thought for the day:  There are a lot of words out there that get bandied about loosely:  love, war, contemporary, beauty, ugly, faith, sin.  Be careful when you hear them and use them….the other person may have a different definition than yours.

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