Contemporary art  

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Australia Ron Mueck

Austria: Erwin Wurm

Belgium: Guillaume Bijl

China: Ai Weiwei

France: Christian Boltanski

India: Anish Kapoor

Portugal: Paula Rego

Italy: Maurizio Cattelan

Germany: Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Ruff

Switzerland: Thomas Hirschhorn, Peter Fischli & David Weiss

United Kingdom: Andy Goldsworthy, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Damien Hirst, Banksy, Antony Gormley

USA: Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Robert Gober, Chris Burden, Joel-Peter Witkin

Fountain (1917) by Marcel Duchamp
Fountain (1917) by Marcel Duchamp

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Contemporary art can be defined variously as art produced at the present time or art produced after 1970. It includes postmodern art.

The distinction between contemporary art and modern art is made like this: the former is art roughly since 1970 until today, while the latter refers to art from the 1860s until the 1970s.

Contemporary artworks include Columns of Ham (2000) and Heaven of Delight (2002) by Jan Fabre; and Tattooed Pigs (1995) and Cloaca (2000) by Wim Delvoye.



institutional art

Contemporary art is exhibited by commercial contemporary art galleries, private collectors, art auctions, corporations, publicly funded arts organizations, contemporary art museums or by artists themselves in artist-run spaces. Contemporary artists are supported by grants, awards and prizes as well as by direct sales of their work.

There are close relationships between publicly funded contemporary art organisations and the commercial sector. For instance, in Britain a handful of dealers represent the artists featured in leading publicly funded contemporary art museums.

Individual collectors can wield considerable influence. Charles Saatchi dominated the contemporary art market in Britain during the 1980s and the 1990s; the subtitle of the 1999 book Young British Artists: The Saatchi Decade uses of the name of the private collector to define an entire decade of contemporary art production.

Corporations have attempted to integrate themselves into the contemporary art world: exhibiting contemporary art within their premises, organising and sponsoring contemporary art awards and building up extensive collections of corporate art.

The institutions of art have been criticised for regulating what is designated as contemporary art. Outsider art, for instance, is literally contemporary art, in that it is produced in the present day. However, it is not considered so because the artists are self-taught and are assumed to be working outside of an art historical context. Craft activities, such as textile design, are also excluded from the realm of contemporary art, despite large audiences for exhibitions. Attention is drawn to the way that craft objects must subscribe to particular values in order to be admitted. "A ceramic object that is intended as a subversive comment on the nature of beauty is more likely to fit the definition of contemporary art than one that is simply beautiful." (Peter Timms, What's Wrong with Contemporary Art?, UNSW Press, 2004, p17).

At any one time a particular place or group of artists can have a strong influence on globally produced contemporary art; for instance New York artists in the 1980s.

Public attitudes

Contemporary art can sometimes seem at odds with a public that does not feel that art and its institutions share its values. In Britain, in the 1990s, contemporary art became a part of popular culture, with artists becoming stars, but this did not lead to a hoped-for "cultural utopia". Some critics like Julian Spalding and Donald Kuspit have suggested that skepticism, even rejection, is a legitimate and reasonable response to much contemporary art.


Classificatory disputes about art

A common concern since the early part of the 20th century is the question of what constitutes art. This concern can be seen running through the "modern", "postmodern" and now "conceptual" periods. The concept of avant-garde may come into play in determining what art is taken notice of by galleries, museums, and collectors. Serious art is ultimately exceedingly difficult to distinguish definitively from art that falls short of that designation.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Contemporary art" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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