Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrors” (2017). Yayoi Kusama Museum, Japan. © Getty Images

 

If you’ve been reading our articles assiduously, and you’ve been following what’s going on with our platform, you’ve definitely understood that art2act is centred in contemporary art, and the artists that create it. The reasons why we chose to intervene in this sector are also pretty clear, but if you need reminding you should read some of our previous articles such as Art, Jobs & Education, The Struggle of Female Artists and The Relevance of Art. What might not have been clear from the beginning is the concept of contemporary art. But fear not! Today we will take a closer look into what contemporary art actually makes reference to.

What is contemporary art?

Very widely speaking, contemporary art is considered to be that which was made after the 2nd World War, from 1945 onward. Marked by a stylistic renewal, the use of new media and new technologies, contemporary art is deeply nourished by the experiments of early 20th century modern art. Modern art itself was already defined by the breaking of classic and traditional art. By changing the rules of creation, furthering itself from its representative function, modern art saw the rise of movements such as cubism, fauvism, art nouveau and expressionism. Contemporary art comes to fully enter this cycle, completely dissociating art from representation, and assuming its abstract potential.

The Mark Rothko room at London’s Tate Modern. © David Sillitoe for The Guardian

 

Some erudits place the beginning of this movement with abstract expressionism, an American art movement of the 1940s. In the midst of the Second World War, young artists such as Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), Franz Klein (1910–1962), Mark Rothko (1903–1970) and Willem de Kooning (1904–1997) opposed European cubism and surrealism. They preferred action painting, which consisted of projecting paint onto a canvas with large movements, and colour field painting, which consisted of painting large swathes of colour in a flat manner. Later on, other movements would appear and consolidate this trend. Informalism is one example. This movement, which started in Europe as a reaction to recent American tendencies, covers many trends like lyrical abstraction or tachisme, and was perpetuated by artists such as M. Helena Vieira da Silva (1908–1992), Sam Francis (1923–1994), Georges Mathieu (1921–2012) and Pierre Soulages (1919-). Soon after, other currents would arise, like the very famous minimalism and Pop Art. In addition to these artistic trends that stem from abstract expressionism, several other contemporary movements emerged from the 1950s to nowadays. These may include photorealism and graffiti, which are still very much in vogue, and neo-expressionism, which draws on punk culture and street painting.

Vieira da Silva, Esplanade” (1962). Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, Portugal.

 

Contemporary art today

Today, the movements, schools and trends in art are infinite, and the selection is very eclectic. Living artists keep on pushing the boundaries of creation further and further ahead, experimenting and introducing groundbreaking technologies, such as NFTs, new media, like concrete or plastic, new techniques… The way we do art nowadays has been freed even from conceptualism, making artistic practices more individual and the used media much more important. Moreover, art has actually become the space where artists can express themselves without a goal or a purpose, which is a massive statement for someone to make in a productivist society like ours.

Within contemporary art, in art2act we focus on supporting living artists. For us, it is of paramount importance to make sure they have the means they need in order to continue creating.