Contemporary Art Dialogue

Contemporary art is more than beautiful objects, images, poetry or music. It is taking paper, forms, images, words, sounds, color, light and ideas, and transforming these into artworks that resonate, inspire and provoke us.

Contemporary art is often about taking discordant elements from one’s life and environment, and re-ordering these to create works with profound messages. Art historically, Cezanne and Van Gogh painted obsessively while striving to order chaos within their lives.

Contemporary art - foreclosures

foreclosures, 108x72in, oil enamel collage on canvas
© 2009 Marcus A. Jansen,(American born 1968)
Courtesy: MW Gallery Aspen
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York,
VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Contemporary art is created from the 1960's or 70's to the present. It comprises several styles and media, includes conceptual, political and social messages, addressing feminism, multiculturalism and globalization. Modern art created 1860 to 1970 includes impressionism, cubism, abstract expressionism and more.

The Following are Just a Few Among Many Contemporary Art Styles

Graffiti art has spontaneity and urgency born in part from the need to make the self and one’s ideas known to the world. Painter Marcus Antonius Jansen explains, "Graffiti is a vibrant voice that has enormous potential in terms of movement, color, vibrancy and immediacy. As I grew older, I started to recognize a connection between European expressionism and graffiti art because both styles were expressing a socio-political message." From Art-Interview Online!

With postmodern art, artists adopt, borrow, steal, recycle and/or sample from earlier modern and classical works, as well as from artists, styles, movements and techniques. Divisions no longer exist between art, popular culture and the media. Shepard Fairey's Obama Hope poster, an example, includes "appropriation" from another source, a photograph. The works of photo-realist painter Kathryn Aiken are also examples. She lit, photographed and printed her subjects. Then using her images as guides, she rendered her compositions onto paper, painting with rich watercolors, brilliant light fast inks and 'layer upon layer' of pastels.

For an artist, abstract art (with origins in modern art) is an intense, deliberate process, employing conscious or subconscious techniques to convey emotions, thoughts and/or messages. Rather than creating a lucid, figurative image, abstract art provides forms and symbols that evoke thoughts, memories and emotions from the viewer.

Assemblage art is non-traditional sculpture made from combining found objects, sometimes using junk from the streets. Originally a movement in modern art, assemblage works by artists Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Kienholz and others are raw but poetically beautiful. They take the ordinary and make it special.

Contemporary art - Rose #2 by Kathryn Aiken

Rose #2, photo realistic painting by Kathryn Aiken, with permission of Michael Aiken.

Photographic art (as opposed to photojournalism) is about seeing the world with a high level of acuteness and discrimination, The photographic artist generally uses four approaches to assessing visual information: 1) the two-dimensional shape or outline, 2) texture or surface characteristics, 3) the three-dimensional aspect, 4) color, including black and white.

With Conceptual art, concepts or ideas are more important than traditional aestheticism, while specific concepts or ideas are often created in the absence of traditional aesthetic principles. Conceptual artworks by Sol LeWitt were constructed from his written instructions by others. LeWitt said, "… the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work...all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair.”

True Personality and Essence

"Great art should be timeless, command attention, make an artistic statement, trigger an emotion, engage and acquire the true personality and essence," wrote an anonymous writer.

"If you know that piece of music, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn't know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what's really going on inside us," said Karl Paulnack, director of Boston Conservatory's Music Division.

"Art is the cry of the soul from the core of one's being. Creating and appreciating art set free the joyous soul trapped deep within us. That is why art causes such joy," wrote Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda.


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