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Contemporary artists are those who create contemporary artworks. Contemporary art is an umbrella term that can include art that has either been produced since World War II or art that has been created within 20 years of the present date. The types of media used or the artwork created by contemporary artists can vary widely. These artists can include those working with virtual reality, video and digital media, graffiti, sound art, installation and earthworks, performance and interactive art, as well as more traditional media like painting, sculpture, and drawing.
Since the 1950s, there have been more than 50 movements in the art world that fall under the overall umbrella of contemporary art. Each art movement incorporates a different set of rules and aesthetics. Art movements vary from abstract expressionism to minimalism, and from pop art to electronic art. Both world events and advances in technology have influenced the types of work these artists create.
The term modern art is often used synonymously with contemporary art. Modern art, however, is artwork created from the 1880s to the mid-20th century, including the movements known as impressionism, cubism, and surrealism. Contemporary art, while it may overlap slightly with modern art, usually seeks out new technologies and new forms of expression. Overall, there is no one set of rules that determines what type of artwork contemporary artists create.
Contemporary artists in the 1960s discovered new uses for an acrylic polymer previously used only by scientists. Through their experimentation, they popularized what would become the acrylic paint medium. In the 1970s, these artists adopted new video technology and began creating performance videos. The 1980s brought digital artwork to the forefront with the onset of personal computers. The 1990s pushed the digital aspect even further to create interactive and Internet-based art.
At the same time, there were contemporary artists reacting to these new technologies in different ways by making works of art that utilized the waste or byproducts created by the onset of newer technologies. As one example, artist Ed Rossbach began weaving baskets out of plastic discards. Other artists, such as installation artist and sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, went in the opposite direction in a reaction against newer technologies by diving back into more traditional forms of art making. Today's artists have the luxury of working in any medium available, whether it be technology-based, traditional, or some combination of the two.
Frequently Asked Questions
What defines a contemporary artist?
A contemporary artist is someone who creates art in the present day, reflecting current culture, society, and politics. They often experiment with new materials and techniques, pushing the boundaries of traditional art forms. Contemporary artists may work across various mediums, including painting, sculpture, installation, video, and performance art, and their work is typically characterized by a spirit of innovation and a questioning of established norms.
How many types of contemporary artists are there?
Contemporary art is diverse and ever-evolving, making it difficult to categorize all artists into specific types. However, some common categories include painters, sculptors, installation artists, performance artists, photographers, and multimedia artists. Each type engages with different materials and concepts, offering unique perspectives and experiences to the audience. The number of types can expand as artists continue to explore new avenues of expression.
What is the role of technology in contemporary art?
Technology plays a significant role in contemporary art, both as a tool and a medium. Artists utilize digital technologies to create and manipulate images, sounds, and interactive experiences. According to the Pew Research Center, the internet and social media have also transformed how artists share their work and engage with audiences. Moreover, technology has given rise to new art forms like digital art, video art, and virtual reality installations, expanding the possibilities for artistic expression.
Can you give examples of famous contemporary artists and their contributions?
Some renowned contemporary artists include Ai Weiwei, known for his politically charged installations and activism; Yayoi Kusama, famous for her immersive, polka-dotted environments; and Banksy, whose street art and subversive epigrams critique contemporary society. Jeff Koons has challenged notions of value and taste with his balloon animal sculptures, while Marina Abramović has pushed the limits of performance art with her endurance pieces. Each has significantly impacted the art world and beyond.
How do contemporary artists influence society and culture?
Contemporary artists often reflect and critique current events, societal issues, and cultural trends, influencing public discourse and sometimes even policy. Their work can provoke thought, elicit emotional responses, and inspire social change. For instance, artists like Kara Walker address themes of race and historical memory, while others like Olafur Eliasson focus on environmental concerns, bringing attention to climate change through their installations. By challenging viewers to see the world differently, contemporary artists can shape cultural narratives and values.