Contemporary Art Movement

Artists continue to do work that reflects the cultures and ideals of their time. They often change their mediums, explore new ideas, or find inspiration in other media such as performance and digital technologies. 

Artwork created in the present day by living artists is known as contemporary art. Read on to learn more about what contemporary art is and how it is distinguished from modern art.

Contemporary Art Movement Definition

Contemporary Art means “the art of today,” or art being created in the present.  More broadly, it can refer to artworks produced in the late 20th through to early 21st centuries and today. 

Contemporary art is generally defined as art made after the Modern Art movement to the present day. However, the line between modern and contemporary art can become blurred because modernist style artwork is not always produced during the specific modern art time frame.

Contemporary art is defined as art that uses modernism's techniques, subjects, and styles. It isn't very easy to explain because it has evolved and will continue to do so. It began as an art movement that emerged in the post-World War II period. It first became prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s.

As contemporary art has evolved over the years, it has blurred lines between what is fine art and what is not. What we see now as contemporary art had developed over the last 200 years and has been designed by artists creating works of art when society was changing rapidly.

Today, what we view as contemporary art may not be considered contemporary art in 100 years. Instead, contemporary art continues to move with the times, and art styles are retrospectively given other labels or classified into movements. 

Who Started the Contemporary Art Movement? 

The concept of contemporary art first emerged in the 20th century. This was when artists began to create art pieces not based on mythology or religious subject matter. Instead, artists began to use art to comment on society or to explore self-expression. 

It became more popular in the mid-20th century when there was a change in society, and it became socially acceptable for people to question their reality and challenge norms.

In the early 21st century, American artists have ushered in the rise of contemporary art. The type of art created regularly has been popularised by the mix of technology and imagination. Moreover, it's modern art made by living artists today. 

What are the major contemporary art movements?

The following list provides some of the major contemporary art movements and their creator:

  • Minimalism: The term "minimalism" was coined by Russian painter Kazimir Malevich in 1915, who created a strict and refined style that involved abstract geometric patterns and non-figurative paintings.
  • Pop Art: The central figure behind pop art is British artist Andy Warhol. He became well known due to his work with mass-produced paintings of Marilyn Monroe, Campbell's Soup Cans, and other popular culture images.

Contemporary Art Movements Timeline

The Contemporary Art Movements timeline is a chronological list of important art movements in the 20th and 21st centuries. This timeline explains how they rose to prominence, related, and where they came from.

  • 1960’s onwards: Pop Art 
  • 1960’s onwards: Word Art/Word Painting 
  • 1960’s onwards: Conceptualism 
  • 1960’s onwards: Performance Art
  • 1960: Fluxus Movement 
  • 1960’s onwards: Installation Art
  • 1960’s onwards: Video Installations 
  • 1960’s onwards: Minimalism 
  • 1970’s: Hyperrealism
  • 1970’s: Earthworks
  • 1970’s onwards: Post Minimalism Art
  • 1970’s: Feminist Art
  • 1970’s onwards: Graffiti Art
  • 1970’s New Subjectivity
  • 1979 onwards: Transavanguardia
  • 1980’s: Neo-Expressionist Art
  • 1980’s onwards: Neo Pop Art
  • 1980’s: Britart
  • 1985-2010: Deconstructivist Design
  • 1990’s: Bodyart
  • 21st Century onwards: Projection Art
  • 21st Century onwards: New Leipzig School
  • 21st Century onwards: Computer Art

Contemporary Art Movement Examples

Artists break boundaries, make new styles, and be brave in many ways. They are constantly challenging the status quo by creating aesthetically pleasing and culturally impacting artwork.

Some of the most popular contemporary art movements are the Postmodernism movement, Minimalist, Transavantgarde, and Pop Art movements. 

The Pop Art movement bridged modernism and contemporary art and originated out of an interest in collage and assemblage by various artists. This term was first used by British artist Robert Rauschenberg, who created multi-layered paintings with found objects.

Postmodernism arose in various art forms, including literature, music, film, and painting. Many of these artists began to question the cultural narratives that were prevalent while also deconstructing classical painting styles (most notably impressionist).

The Transavantgarde movement is made up of avant-garde artists who reject conventionalism and attempt to break boundaries by using technology to shake up society's perceptions of what is "art."

Minimalist artists create minimalist art or seemingly simplistic pieces and have questioned society's overvaluation of beauty, expression, obsession with objects, social hierarchies, and commercialism within art.

Contemporary Art Movement Today

Today's contemporary art movement is often dubbed as "abstract" or "conceptual" and is characterized by a disregard for materials, techniques, and the context of creation. For many people, contemporary art is "just for conceptual artists."

Today's contemporary art movements see contemporary artists creating pieces that transcend borders and connect people around the world rather than just building personal relationships between two individuals in the same space.

Buying Contemporary Fine Art

Eden Gallery is an international contemporary fine art gallery with locations in NYC, London, Miami, and Mykonos. Collectors of contemporary artworks can explore Pop Art sculptures, Graffiti paintings, minimalist artworks, and other fine artworks in contemporary styles. Visit our online art gallery or gallery location today to explore works by Eden Gallery artists.

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