Contemporary art is popularly known as an art that is and continues to be created during our lifetime. We believe, that no other artistic definition and no other artistic category is as confusing and straightforward, as Contemporary Art.

The Difference Between Modern and Contemporary Art

In the English language, ‘contemporary’ and ‘modern’ are synonyms. However, in the world of art, these two words describe two different times of creation and two different approaches to art-making and the functionality of art. For understanding Contemporary Art, we must first understand the difference between Modern and Contemporary art.

times of creation

The term Modern Art is usually referred to art made during the period ranging roughly between the 1860s and 1970s. The art created during this period celebrated experimentation and placed traditions of the past aside. This newly found freedom and revolutionary way of relying on the inner visions and expression of such visions marks the most significant inspiration of Modern Art. This influenced the approach to real life, social issues and images of modern life.

The Cut-Off

For many, the end of Modern Art is marked in the 1970s, and this gave birth to the term Postmodern. Towards the end of the 20th century, the development of technology resulted in the rise of Video Art and Performance Art. This was coupled with experimentation and appropriation from multiple sources and disciplines. During the same time, we also saw the growth of theory and philosophy and the emphasis on the present. Postmodernism focused on what we have in front of us, and that is what demands knowledge. This was the time when everything started to build up and form an eclectic and diverse Contemporary art.

eclectic and diverse

Postmodern ideas influence the governing spirit of Contemporary Art that everything is made of parts and at the same time an entity on its own. With its diversity, Contemporary Art offers works with a dynamic and interactive combination of methods, materials, concepts and subjects that challenge and defy the mainstream. Contemporary artists work with ideas, concepts, questions and practices of the past to understand the present and envision the future. It is due to this diversity that Contemporary Art is often viewed as lacking a uniform organizing principle or ideology which leaves people wondering if they are missing something.

Concluding Note

What seems to be one of the most significant differences between the two is that Modern Art referenced the past, and with this reference, it tried to understand the present. Contemporary art also focuses on understanding the present, but the present itself is fragmented.