What Makes Contemporary Art Different

Galerie Michael   •  Dec 01, 2017


Modern art and contemporary art, despite what some people might think, are two completely different eras in the history of art. Modern art is the era that precedes postmodern art. The modern era was an era that was defined both in art and in philosophy by its propensity to be more defined and rational. After that, the postmodern era came into play, which tore down the logical constructs that people presuppose about the world. From there, the contemporary art era introduced new concepts, such as holding up a mirror to what society is, and what it actually represents. As you can tell, the transition from the modern phase to the contemporary phase in art history is vast, so there’s no way that they can be exactly the same thing. Here are a few things that define the contemporary era and what it represents to people that exist in the artistic community.


In the contemporary art era, a wide range of mediums are introduced and focused on, while in previous eras, there were only a few different mediums that artists focused on. If you want to define the contemporary era, you can do it through the wide range of mediums that are being utilized. That’s why you might find certain pieces of contemporary art that are unable to even fit inside of museums because they’re so large. In contemporary art, everything can be a medium. We began to see this a little bit in the postmodern era, but it really began to flourish when it became a characteristic of the contemporary era.


Instead of focusing on philosophical issues or historical issues, contemporary art often tends to hold up a mirror to society. They’ll tackle issues that are important to the viewer in the last fifty years or so, all the way up until now, and they try to make their artistic representation represent how society actually is and how it actually functions. The contemporary art era pulls no punches when it tackles society, instead, it tries to create art that’s going to end up changing society. If you want to create contemporary art, taking on an issue that’s important to you today is one of the better ways that you can do it.


The contemporary era, although it focuses more on society than it does on philosophical issues in a vacuum, still has a lot of ideas that are leftover from postmodernism, such as that there’s no such thing as absolute truth. The contemporary era, at least tends to steer clear of absolute truths as being acceptable forms of knowledge. The distinction here is that while the contemporary era is somewhat postmodern, the contemporary era only includes art that’s been around for the past fifty years or so. That means that you’re not going to get the full scope of the postmodern era, and it won’t be solely focusing on the philosophical issues that postmodernism brings up.