What is contemporary art?

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What is contemporary art?

February 05, 2019

What is contemporary art?

Contemporary art is art created in the second half of the 20th century, or during the 21st century. Contemporary paintings are often very culturally diverse and combine different painting methods, materials and concepts to create original and vibrant work.

When explained literally, contemporary art is art which exists at the same time as we do, acknowledging the problems that come with this description.

Art styles seemed to start to change at the end of World War 2 due to a lack of natural breaks. I


Modern art is often visually compelling and very subjective.

Sometimes contemporary art can seem very quick and easy to produce, but the beauty is in the style created by the artist, rather than how easy it was to produce.

It is sometimes easy to copy work created by a contemporary artist, but it will have been much more difficult to source originally.


Contemporary art is often thought to have derived from pop art, which surfaced in the 1950s by artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

From there photo realism came about, where artists started to depict objects through hyper realistic drawings and paintings, often using photographs to work from. Chuck Close and Gerhard Richteroften worked in this style.

Pop Art also art helped shape conceptualism, which was an artistic movement started in the early 21st century. Conceptualism captures the idea behind a work of art as the precedence. Conceptual artists include Damien Hirst, Ai Wei Wei, and Jenny Holzer.

Minimalism quickly followed on, which materialised in the 1960s. Tate said the movement aimed to “challenge the existing structures for making, disseminating and viewing art.” The difference with minimalism is the viewer focuses on what they can see, not want the art represents,

From here, street, performance and earth art all followed on, branching out into their own takes on contemporary art in an aim to widen the options of modern art we have today.

What next?

It is expected that many more will branch out into the world of contemporary art and we will soon start to see origami, tattoo and embroidery artists take their own twist on contemporary art.