What is Contemporary art?
Contemporary art is incredibly difficult to define as it can refer to a whole slew of different things, but simply put contemporary art is typically defined as art created after World War II. This distinction is used to easily distinguish contemporary art from classical art that was created prior to the 20th century.
Within this overarching genre of “contemporary art,” each decade has several sub-genres that further define more niche art forms. For example, the ’50s and ’60s produced a number of masters of abstract expressionism, and in the ’80s, graffiti art become more prominent.
Types of Contemporary art
As noted above, there are several different types of contemporary art under the umbrella genre. New York Figurative Expressionism was very popular in the ’50s, in which prominent New York artists eschewed popular abstract work to work with figures. Lyrical Abstraction in the ’60s and ’70s was characterized by intuitive and loose paint handling and moved artworks away from the minimalistic style.
Pop and neo-pop art are also sub-genres of contemporary art that became famous towards the end of the 20th century. They used ideas of mass-produced images and objects to create artistic expression.
More recently, altermodern art aims to contextualize art in today’s society as a reaction against consumerism and standardization.
As you can see, contemporary art can be a whole slew of different genres, so it’s a great idea to visit contemporary museums in your area in order to learn more about the different artists in each sub-genre.
Famous Contemporary artists and work
Because contemporary art is so broad, the famous artists that work within the genre are very different from each other. A couple of incredibly famous contemporary artists include:
Andy Warhol was a pioneer in the pop art movement, making brightly colored prints of people like Marilyn Monroe and everyday items, such as Campbell’s soup cans.
Jean-Michel Basquiat began his career as a graffiti artist in New York City and moved into creating Neo-expressionist paintings that contained several elements like words, diagrams, letters, logos, pictograms, numerals, map symbols, and more.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude are married contemporary artists that specialized in environmental works of art, like The Gates that were installed in Central Park in 2005.
Damien Hirst has the distinction of being one of the most profitable artists of his time…and one of the most unusual. One of his most famous works, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, was a shark in formaldehyde in a large aquarium. One of his most expensive pieces is For the Love of God, a human skull recreated in platinum and adorned with 8,601 diamonds.
Jeff Koons constructs banal objects, such as balloon animals or tulips, and crafts them in stainless steel and shiny surfaces.