Contemporary art is defined as “the art of today”—art made in the latter half of the 20th century and the entirety of the 21st century. Art produced by emerging artists is classified as contemporary art, even if their style resembles old art movements.
This era of art is distinct; it is created in an environment that’s more technologically advanced and culturally diverse than its predecessors. The rapid innovations and the growing accessibility of technology have given artists more creative ways to bring their vision to life. The global pandemic, concern over climate change, and increasing political and social unrest have also given artists unique questions to tackle in their works.
Let’s explore the other ways the current ecosystem is shaping the future of art.
Emergence of experimental works
The rise of the internet has given birth to a more desensitized audience. The increased accessibility of art means that people see art more often, and thus have a shorter attention span to works that don’t catch their attention. Thus, contemporary artists have been expanding the limits of their creativity to create art that’s never been seen before.
Alexis Fraser, a performing and visual artist, pioneered “kiss art”, where she would apply lipstick on her own lips and create stunning paintings out of kiss prints. Multimedia artist Daniel Arsham creates mind-bending visual illusions through his sculptures and incorporates crystals and semi-precious stones into his work.
Increasing art accessibility
We live in a time where art has been decentralized from museums and major art institutions. Social media and the internet have made it possible for patrons to consume art even from their own homes and for independent artists to receive adequate support. While some traditionalists may be sceptical about the legitimacy of artists who embrace these platforms, it’s undeniable that building a relationship with an audience is vital for an artist’s survival in the present age.
Sites like Ko-Fi and Patreon opened the doors for artists to easily receive donations and messages from patrons. Artists garnering fame on social media have also allowed contemporary art to enter the commercial space in collaborations with brands such as Nike and Adidas.
The role of technology
Artists have access to mediums unique to this century, such as virtual reality, drawing tablets, high-spec cameras, 3D printing, and so on. Artists like Alberto Seveso use modern high-speed photography to immortalize the ephemeral moment ink clouds disperse in water, something that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. The growth of eCommerce sites has also made special tools and materials easier to purchase. Additionally, there’s an endless stream of inspiration, resources, and learning materials budding artists can access online, making it even easier for artists to gain new skills and knowledge.
The 21st century is an era of fast and volatile changes, making it an exciting time for art. Art has always been influenced by the context in which it’s created, and with the unique developments the 21st century brings, it’s interesting to discover what else the following years will have in store for future artists and art appreciators.