Understanding contemporary Art

“Contemporary art is defined as art created artists all over the world in the last 50 years. Contemporary artists work are predominantly influenced by globalization of trade and interconnectedness of culture, technology and human migration. The artists derive their inspiration from diverse combinations of concepts, use of everyday objects as their choice of material fueling their creativity and challenge the very notion that art creation is has to be done with established norms of the art world.

It’s a breakaway from the uniform, structured, brush to the canvas ideology held closely by the guardians and master painters of the past. It concerns with the dialogue of identity in the form of culture, community, nationality and the larger context of global citizenry. Contemporary art focuses more on the principle of truth rather than the obsession on beauty. That is the main difference.

Traditional art has always focused on producing art by replicating nature or the things around you. In other words, artists were producing something that they have seen. To understand contemporary art without complicating the subject matter, we need to look at it from the point of view of understanding, why it is considered art and why art is important in the society. In the past few centuries art was defined as that’s something of beauty picked up from nature or capturing the noble aristocracy of kings and queens, the wealthy and the powerful and to be strictly replicated on the canvas with established standards.

The beginning of the 21st century saw a major shift from this traditional way of thinking about art.

The contemporary artists wanted to breakaway the traditional art forms and norms. They wanted more of their own understanding of what is art and their own definitions representing their own time. So from being representational, it dissected itself and moved on to Conceptual Art. What that meant was, instead of merely representing what you have seen, traditionally something painted on a canvas called a painting, they wanted art presented from ordinary things, in a way that gets you thinking first, why it should be art.

It challenged the traditional practices of telling the viewer what is art, what should art, how you should view art to how you experience art from a pure place. You could start to think about things. Instead of being a viewer, you engage and become present. You become part of the painting. You become an experience and the artwork connects with you directly. You were no longer going to a gallery or a museum and look at what were on the walls and be a spectator
Artworks were placed on the floor, hanging from the ceiling, protruding out of the walls etc. Video screens replaced canvas. Multiple images, moving images were emitting out of the contemporary canvas.

So in essence, contemporary art became a radical voice that shook up the traditional established forms of art held tightly by their custodians. The notion that a group of people held the right to define what is art and what is viewed as art and its value was made irrelevant by artists like Marcel Duchamp who paved the way for the contemporary art map. The landscape become much clearer with the introduction of Conceptual Art. Much of what you see today as art is stemming from conceptual art.

There is nothing wrong in appreciating contemporary art that defines our time. The irony is that what is traditional art today was contemporary and racial art in their time. Artworks done by Van Gogh, Matisse, Egon Schiele, in their time was not considered art. Today their works are celebrated as masterful and they’re known as The Old Masters who defined art as we know today.

When one enters into the art world, like many things in life, we have to approach it with openness and curiosity and do not be afraid. After all, life begins with our curiosity. It is that curiosity helps us to define who we are, what we become and eventually help navigate much of what we do with our lives. In the art world there are many contradictions. Some say that art must be representational and it must have its roots firmly placed in the traditional forms of Art. Others say that it must free itself from all representations and reflect the present time and the creativity in the 21st century.

However, the reality is both traditional art and contemporary is existing side by side. Both can be appreciated for its own value. One does not need to negate the other in order to be appreciated. So it is important, you have to take a practical approach to understanding both sides of the coin because they were great artists living and creating incredible art constantly throughout the human history. And that will not change any time soon.

We must bear in mind that the word ‘contemporary art’ is very subjective. What is new or contemporary today is old by tomorrow. Past and present is a constant in the art world. The fact that makes contemporary art very difficult to understand is the competitive spirit between different artists and their ambition to be artist extraordinaire in their time, created most of the confusion in the understanding of contemporary art. There were no collective voice. The artistic processes demanded individualistic purity of each artist. That meant each artist had to chisel their creations and stamp their originality as the symbol of greatness.

Art does not have to be a complicated the subject matter.

The notion that art is to most people, very complex subject matter and made worse by art jargons and unnecessary complexity created by the elites of the art world, is a wall carefully built to keep a few in the “art game” and keep the masses out of the picture. The truth is that wall is slowly crumbling with globalization and technological advancement and transparency.

Today, the proliferation of so many online art platforms, which were non-existent a decade or two ago, gives a novice art collector plenty of choices to begin the journey of collecting art. Today you have access to thousands of artists works online. Collecting art does take time. Great art is not cheap. Therefore, buying art from the beginning correctly can save you a ton of money. That is where we as gallerists becomes a catalysts for your artistic journey

So before we jump into exploring contemporary art we must understand some of the basic fundamental concepts, what is contemporary art is, without being exploited by artists, art galleries, museums, art dealers and others.

We as art promoters, have serious responsibility introducing art to the onlooker and to make them understand what is art, in a simple manner, and then once the foundation of understanding is established, they can find their own way understanding and appreciating art. This is crucial in anyone’s attempt in understanding what is art today. The word ‘art’ is so broad, it screams subjectivity in all directions.

The main focus of contemporary art is primarily presenting the truth. Contemporary Art presents itself in the most honest forms or definitions of truth. It almost shares a spiritual euphoria. Just like how we might experience warm sunshine from the winter cold. The sun is not partial to anyone but the sunshine is experienced differently by different persons. That is undeniable fact. Some people avoid the sun at all costs, others, ‘bake’ themselves in the sunlight. Some people like the heat and others hate the heat.

We can gather from these different experiences that, while the sun is shining heat and light on everything equally, it is received and experienced differently by different individuals. So is The concepts of contemporary art is akin to that experience. And that is what is fascinating about contemporary art. That no one view is supreme or perfect over the other. There are many points of view and the collective appreciation of the art defines its importance and value and not the price tag on it.

It is interesting to note that in the traditional art forms, the collective consensus came from accepting the set norms and parameters of linear appreciation of art from the point of beauty while contemporary art invites the viewer in to a dialog and the collective collaboration of conceptual dialog infused with different ideas and exploration form the collective consensus.

So if you are beginning to collect or buying your first piece of art then it’s very important that you understand some basic foundation about contemporary art before you start spending your money on acquiring them. Like everything else we do in our lives, with the proper foundation you can embark on your exciting journey of art discovery. Tt becomes more interesting to visit galleries and museums or art fairs and so on.

Artstream collection is a bridge between the old and new artforms. We truly appreciate the traditional art, while daringly embrace the art of our times. We are merely broadcasting what is being created. Our voice comes from presenting the obvious.

If you like our collection and would like to know about the artists and their works, or you are interested in a particular piece of art and want a deeper connection with it, feel free to contact us and let’s begin a meaningful conversation.