Contemporary art in the 21st century, where is it going?

Contemporary art in the 21st century, where is it going?

The term contemporary art has been used to generically designate the art made during the twentieth century.

While we can extend its origin to the last decades of the nineteenth century where it will form the critical spirit so characteristic of the movement of the twentieth century.

It is the philosophical, scientific and political changes prevailing at that time that demand that art face reality in a different way. 

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Europe lived in a situation characterized by social instability and economic and political rivalry between the various nations that comprise it, which in a terrible turn of history led to the First World War, but that will make it a time of fruitful productivity in the scientific and intellectual field.

In this rarefied environment, art was affected and multiple currents that are known as "isms" developed in a non-linear way.

Some "isms" were contemporaries and on more than one occasion they related to each other.

The art of the twentieth century does not suppose a drastic and real cut with the past, but we can not deny that it is a significant change and a break with the prevailing tradition until that moment.

The "isms" although they diverge in many things have in common the aspect of pretending a change in the art that was made up to that moment.

We will find the roots of contemporary art at the end of the 19th century, starting with Impressionism and continuing with Post-Impressionism, which we can consider as a starting point for 20th-century trends.

Within the historical vanguards perhaps the most prominent were Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, Neoplasticism, Dadaism and Surrealism.

All have a series of common elements in their rupturist ideology, but not in the stylistic where they diverge to a great extent.

In all of them there is a group conscience, belonging to a group, reflecting it in their respective manifest.

They deny the past and  look for a new expressive language based on a different vision of reality, to which they no longer aspire to imitate, but to interpret. 

The desire for novelty leads them to experiment with color, shapes and composition.

contemporary art sculpture

We do not know if to clarify or to complicate this panorama a concept arises in 20th century art that you have certainly heard about:


Postmodernism is an artistic movement that is described as the one that appeared later, or perhaps it would be more correct to say, what appeared in response to modern art. 

Postmodern art is defined by its opposition or overcoming the tendencies of the Modern Age.

With which it is perhaps worth noting that it is the historical period in which the Universal History in the West is divided and that it is located between the discovery of America (1492), some speak of the fall of Constantinople in (1453) that supposes the takes by the Turks of the city and the French Revolution (1789) at least for French historiography.

Although we remember that the Anglo-Saxon historiography continues to call the current age the Modern Age, the French Revolution does not seem enough to change its age.

Thus the Anglo-Saxon historiography assumes that we are still in the Modern Age, while the historiographies most influenced by the French name the period after the French Revolution (1789) as Contemporary Age.

But let's focus on art and the idea of ​​bourgeois art.

Modern art would coincide with the era of bourgeois art that was the art that was made throughout the modern age until the beginning of the twentieth century.

The term postmodernity is widely used, there is no agreement among specialists and art critics about whether postmodernism is a form of art that exists as a movement in itself or is simply a phase of modern art for Anglo-Saxons, or art. contemporary for the most inclined to French historiography.

The dates of beginning of postmodern art that are usually suggested are the year 1914 in Europe.

The date given in the United States, which is between 1962 and 1968, is considerably later.

From a sociological point of view, postmodern art is considered as a cultural movement observed in many countries and clearly identified since the beginning of the 1970s.

The works classified within postmodern art, in a thematic way, often revolve around the culture of consumption, popular culture, globalization, the combination of high and low class art, as well as around the role and value of art in society.

Maybe it is raising the anecdote to category, but remember what Duchamp did, an artist who was part of Dadaism (cultural movement emerged in 1916 in Zurich-Switzerland, and characterized by going against the bourgeois artistic conventions, postmodern.

One of his most surprising proposals was to buy a urinal and sign it with the pseudonym "R. Mutt ".

According to the artist himself, the urinal became art at the same moment that he decided it was art, which means that the status of an object as a work of art depends on the context and the perception of the object by the observers.

On the other hand today for us it is rock art, and as such it appears in the manuals of the students of Art, with a capital letter. But who or those who painted the caves had or did not have in mind that he was or they were making art?

Impossible answer question.

Artistic movements that fall under the umbrella of postmodernism include artistic installations, conceptual art or multimedia art.

Common themes in postmodern art are eclecticism, juxtaposition and globalization.

In this sense postmodern art tends to break traditional conceptions and refuses to differentiate between superior art forms, fine arts, and a lower form of art, such as comic book illustrations or graffiti, breaking class distinctions and hierarchy artistic.

And this brings us to the trends in the 21st Century that have taken on that way of thinking.

The current artist uses all kinds of materials and materials, image, technique, science, electronics or mechanical reproduction; merging styles, precepts and rules to create all kinds of art.

Is art all that is exposed? ... For many the answer is very delicate.

From our artistic point of view, yes, it certainly is.

Any of the ways that aim to express beauty, ugliness, communication or the existence of a feeling is art.

Any human expression that aims to express the perception of man or of the individual, which imitates or expresses the material or the immaterial; creating, copying or fantasizing about reality is art. 

Should we always consider it art when man tries to express himself through new ways, investigating new forms of expression?

Man expresses himself as he wants; art is free by nature; therefore, everything is art.

Art is a universal language, perhaps the most universal of all, and that is that art evolves together with man; being present in all its existence and natural restlessness, living it in continuous movement.

The twenty-first century, characterized by all kinds of artistic expression, is torn between the heritage of its cultural value and the communication of its individuals between new paths submerged in a vanguard style, cryptic and, sometimes, even incomprehensible or discordant with the concepts and precepts of art that we have inherited from generations of artists.

The artist transforms himself into a manipulator of postmodernity, of contemporaneity, a vanguardist at the whim of the new, a revolutionary of culture and a progressive exponent of the expressive arts. 

And so the transvanguardias are emerging.

The Italian and German Transvarguards, such as Vidimus-art or Spanish Neo-expressionism, Onirism-art, Romantic Abstract, Neomitism "Myth art" or "Bad Art" and "Thrift Shops Arts" are the result of a society exposed to the media and consumption.

There are many artists who try to implement a new style, but they are not allowed to enter the official circuits that are reserved for a few with a name that they can exhibit. 

From time to time there are large collective exhibitions of new painters at the fairs of cosmopolitan cities.

Art is in a position to multiply and grow, but it lacks circuits to develop in its full potential.

Globalization immerses us in new cultural expressions (Asian art, African art, American art ...) new languages ​​with new mergers. Symbiosis between technology and art.

Markets full of works, but without a clear channel to reach their audience.

Will there be geniuses in the art of the 21st century?

Surely, yes, but they will arise when the waters of this overcrowding, perhaps a little uncontrolled, in which the art of the 21st century has become a bit calmer.

Some will say, that they already exist, but almost all of those that occur to me that we could describe as geniuses in Spain, without going any further, Antoni Tàpies, Miquiel Barceló, Antonio López come from the 20th century.

Perhaps for the emergence of one hundred percent artists from the 21st century, we will have to wait until many of those who today begin to fight in this world of contemporary art grow and mature.

Surely the 21st century will not be less productive from the artistic point of view than previous centuries, but we must give time to grow.

How do you see the art of the 21st century?

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