What is Contemporary Art?

As contemporary art it is called the set of artistic manifestations arising from the twentieth century.

As such, the concept of contemporary art is relative to each era. This means that the art that is produced in any historical period will always be contemporary for its contemporaries. Contemporary was the art of Leonardo da Vinci for those who lived in the 16th century.

However, there are three criteria that are used to determine the moment from which we can call contemporary the artistic expressions of our age that are contemporary art and age; contemporary and avant-garde art, and contemporary and postmodern art. Let’s see.

Art and contemporary age

The naked pestle, Francisco de Goya, 1800

One of the broadest criteria links the beginning of contemporary art with the beginning of the Contemporary Age, at the end of the 18th century with the French Revolution (1789-1799).

In this sense, contemporary art begins with Romanticism that was characterized by emphasizing freedom, individuality, sentimentality and subjectivity.

Contemporary art and avant-garde

Another criterion used to consider artistic productions as contemporary manifestations judges as contemporary that art that emerged from the avant-garde hatching of the early twentieth century.

Roots, Frida Kahlo, 1943

These artistic proposals were distinguished by presenting, both formally and conceptually, a series of ideas that revolutionized the institution of art, such as the break with traditional models or their critical and experimental character.

Some contemporary artistic movements of relevance, in this sense, would be Dadaism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Neoplasticism and Surrealism.

Contemporary art and postmodernity

Mona Lisa with bazooka rocket, 2010 (left) and Interactive Protest for eviction with tearful refugees from Síria in the Calais camp , 2016 (right), BANKSY

Finally, there is a third criterion that takes as a starting point the beginning of Postmodernity (traditionally located between the end of the 60s and the beginning of the 70s) or the end of the Second World War, in 1945.

This contemporary art would be reflected in the second avant-garde wave of the century, made up of movements such as pop art, the new French realism, conceptual art, minimalism and abstract expressionism, as well as with hyperrealism, neofiguration, installations, the Deconstruction and urban art.

Contemporary Art Museum

Contemporary art museums are institutions aimed at the acquisition, conservation and exhibition of artistic collections from relatively recent periods.

For example, in Mexico City there is the University Museum of Contemporary Art, whose collection consists of works made from 1952, when it was inaugurated.

Likewise, the Museum of Modern Art of Mexico contains a collection of contemporary artistic works, with a catalog that covers the production of Mexican and international artists from the 30s of the 20th century.