Something that has ALWAYS interested me as a student, artist, and teacher has been contemporary art. Contemporary art really does include and cover so many different things, people, art, places, spaces, meanings, materials, etc. but ultimately it is a movement that is currently happening- it is art that is being made in the present. Art that is modern and non-traditional is categorized as contemporary. I love contemporary art and artists because they are typically living and creating in the now- something that is always nice to remember: the process, the person, the place- not just the product.
“Art21 defines contemporary art as the work produced by artists of the twenty-first century. It is both a mirror of contemporary society and a window through which we view and deepen our understanding of the world and ourselves—a rich resource through which to consider current ideas and rethink the familiar. The work of contemporary artists is a dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that challenges traditional assumptions and definitions. Diverse and eclectic, contemporary art is distinguished by the absence of a uniform organizing principle, ideology, or label. Contemporary artists give voice to the varied and changing landscapes of identity, values, and beliefs in the increasingly global culture of our diverse and technologically advancing world.”
We are beginning to explore contemporary art at CHS this month throughout each class. In Art II we have studied Cindy Sherman and her self portrait photographs, as well as Marcel Duchamp and his large role in Dadaism and creating readymades. In painting class, we have been studying the paintings of Van Gogh (post-Impressionist, not contemporary) alongside the works of Mark Bradford (painter with the broom above), understanding that artists and creators use their environments in different ways to contribute to their artistic ideas and artmaking. The AP art class is always exploring modern artists- tumblr is a great resource for up-and-coming artists, and we have found great examples of multi-medium artists who are doing things that we have never seen before. The students usually bring these artists to my attention- something that is a great accessory to my learning about contemporary art.
There are great resources that are free and extremely interesting, educational, and eye-opening. As a teacher, it is wonderful to have such a broad array of topics, artists, and movements to choose from. I suggest ART21 (a site that I have used and loved over the years, being introduced to it in my undergraduate art studies) to any student, educator, and artist interested in learning more about contemporary art. We will be using these in my classroom to study art history and artmaking, as well as criticism and aesthetics, for the rest of the semester.
*Great website for videos, interviews, educational guides, and artist bios.