Talk:Contemporary art/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Archive 1 Archive 2


I've erased a few old irrelevant discussions here that had to do with text that's been edited out. Flange P. Vibrator 03:55, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

I gather that there is supposed to be some sort of "special project" to organize this article (here:, but as far as I can tell there has been very little done. There is no reverse link to the page stating the ideals for this article, and the project outline is as disorganized as the article itself. The article is almost a parody of the contemporary art world; drifting from obsessive organization to complete tangential, off-the-top-of-the-head vaguisms, some random details that support no general thesis, and very little concrete information. It is really shocking how poor this article is considering how many brainiacs are interested in this topic. Or perhaps that's the problem? If I had to suggest a structure, it would be to create a section that focusses on groupings within contemporary art, organized by time, with a few well-chosen examples of artists in each grouping, and description of the ideas behind this grouping. These do not have to be too detailed, and we don't have to fight about the groupings, just a way to simplify the history of art since the end of the period labled modernism.

I made some changes, but they are really just a rough beginning, and I'm not sure how it will fare. I'm not a curator or critic and I can't write like one (though I would hope that this article will not use the sometimes difficult-to-understand language found in contemporary art literature...) But of course we need people with more expertise to fill out this article. I don't think we should merge this with "late 20th c. art" because there is clearly an idea "contemporary art", and I certainly think that "postmodern art" is a different article. I also think there is a difference between "contemporary art" and "art that is being made nowadays" (which is a bad title for an article...). If I could state a goal for this article, it would be to offer a very simplified, descriptive, and inclusive view of the major theories, trends and artists in contemporary art, with links to all the other pages that describe these trends in more detail. This way the article can function as a kind of nexus for these ideas, and a good starting point for a beginner. If you click around, you will notice many articles that relate to this topic, some of which are very well-written, but few of which are now linked. I think this article should include two large sections, a section on theory, and a section on movements/trends (which would include artists). The museum section also might fit. I think we should also have a list of contemporary artists. Does anybody know how to start a list-page? This will be a pretty long list. Perhaps the section on movements/trends could be divided into four sections 1 - movements that are argueable part of modernism such as Fluxus, 2 - movements that seem to come after and react to modernism in the late 60's and 70's that have a pretty clear ideological structure, such as land art, 3 - movements of the 80's and early 90's that seem to have a clear theory and decent-sized group of associated artists such as Neo-Expressionism, and 4 - artists working today in the kind of global art environment described in the intro. These are semi-arbitrary divisions, and I can't imagine an art critic being enthusiastic, but for the casual reader or student they would be a good starting point for a deeper exploration of the subject. Lastly, this "stucture" section doesn't seem to have any other comments that relate to structure. This article desperately needs structure! Let's keep things simple and and not include too many details before we have a clear organization. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Flange P. Vibrator (talkcontribs) 20:24, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

My big hope is that we will be able to get some IMAGES up here! After all, this is ART. Plus, the page is looking pretty dry.

The new section on "artists" is a good idea, but there is way too much detailed discussion of public art. This would be more appropriate in the public art article. Perhaps some of this info could be used as an example here, but it is too much. I like the idea of an "artists" heading, but I still think that the "trends" section should include examples of artists from each trend.Flange P. Vibrator 23:27, 5 November 2006 (UTC)


So where's the discussion on neutrality? Who nominated it? Of course, you are correct; this article does not have a neutral POV. But the reason is that it is completely unfinished and a huge mess as well. Before we worry about the POV let's at least get the article to a point where it makes a bit of sense!

I'm not the one who tagged this article, but I thought I'd point out some of the more glaring instances of POV (some of which seems intended to mislead the reader). Emphasis is added to highlight the most objectionable parts.
  1. In the "History" section, "Although Duchamp's most famous works predate the postmodern era by about 50 years, his avant-garde criticality of traditional notions and methods for making art can be seen as closely connected to ideas surrounding contemporary art. One case in point, Duchamp painted few painting after 1912 apparently because he had decided that paint was no longer a viable or relavant artistic media. Duchamp's forward thinking denial of painting was again declared in the 1970s by Conceptualist and other avant-garde artists." The term "avant-garde" is misleadingly complimentary; Duchamp's opinion seems to be presented as fact.
  2. In the "Theories of Contemporary Art" section, "These sculptures therefore marked the end of any pretense that art had some essential and objectively discernible trait that separated it from non-art objects." Again, this statement assumes the fact that art is NOT essentially different from non-art, a statement which can easily be disputed.
  3. Again, in "Theories," "Similarly, Donald Kuspit has labelled contemporary practices that fail to demonstrate historically evidenced artistic qualities as post-art. He criticizes socially-oriented art, exemplified by the work of Rirkrit Tiravanija and Jeremy Deller, for replacing: high culture with mass appeal, autonomy with homogeneity, mystery with transparency, skill with chance creativity, dialectic with dialogue, and “refinement of the unconscious” with spectacle. In the last case, this reminds one of Michael Fried’s disdain for Minimalist theatricality as being an instance of heavy-handed rhetoric. For Kuspit, as well as Danto, artistic categorization “is possible only on the basis of working knowledge of the past...looking to the past for inspiration,” looking specifically to what “post-art” supposedly does not contain, which is beauty. Most emphatically, Kuspit laments the disappearance of the “sacred studio” and the move to the "noisy public street". First of all, legitimate criticism should be taken gracefully, not dismissed out-of-hand, particularly in an encyclopedia article. I propose that this should be added to a new section, "Criticism of contemporary art."
  4. Same section, "Historically, art was more closely aligned with aesthetic notions of beauty, purity and transcendence. It was identified with higher thoughts--not politics." This is simply untrue. Romanticism and realism are not considered contemporary, yet paintings from those periods are charged with images of war, poverty, etc.
  5. Same section, "It often engages a multi-disciplinary discourse, utilizing a diverse body of skills and peoples to ultimately engage the mass with a substantial, and sometimes provocative discourse pertaining to the relevant issues shaping the world right now. It is continually engaging, and affecting the boundaries of perception." Continually engaging, is it? This is pure opinion. In order for this to remain in the article, it should be clear that this is the INTENT, not the actuality.
  6. In the "Contemporary artists" section, "It is through this use of site-specificity that the artwork itself is given added depth and significance. Her choice of materials is also equally valuable..." Again, this is opinion, not fact.
I realize this article is a work in progress, but I hope these issues will be addressed. IrisWings 07:17, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

Well iriswings, I erased a lot of extra crap from the article (sorry I don't know the pro editor word for that), and I think that neutralized a lot of those issues. I think the article is geting closer to the point at which a critique of its neutrality may be useful, but it's better to make the changes than only to comment here... I think the critique of the section on Duchamp is right on. Care to clean it up? Flange P. Vibrator 03:55, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

lol "Erasing crap" is good enough. I agree that you have mitigated several of the issues I pointed out, though #2 is still of serious concern to me. I still think a criticism section would be a nice, balanced addition.
The reason I hesistate to edit this article is because I'm afraid I will pull it too far to the other POV. I may muck around a bit, but that will be the extent of it--no major edits from me on this subject. Sorry. IrisWings 08:11, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm removing the "important contemp. art exhibitions" section. This is a major neautrality issue, there are no citations, explanations for inclusion, etc., not to mention open to abuse. Freshacconci 22:38, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

My concern is with section 1 that refers to Marcel Duchamp. I don't think Duchamp can be easily pigeonholed. For example, take the famous "readymade" urinal. Here a little history will help. At the Amoury Show a couple of years before the "urinal" was exhibited, Duchamp bore the brunt of critics ire for his "Nude descending the Staircase". Well a couple of years later, Duchamp was asked to be a judge for a then contemporary exhibition which he accepted, and, unbeknowest to the other judges submitted the "urinal" under the pseudonym of "R.Mutt". The upshot is that those same critics who scathingly critized Duchamp two years before this time before the "urinal" had egg all over their faces. The point is, I am not so sure, Duchamp today would want to so compartmentalize today's art. There is no doubting that some of the black paintings of Goya or the watercolours of Turner anticipated modernism. Even today art historians argue that there is within Western art a "classical phase" of modernism apart from contemporary modernism today. If we keep this in mind, and a touch of Duchampian scepticism we would be on the right track as regards this topic. Art4humanists 20:35, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

I'd like to take this one on

As a contemporary artist and modern and contemporary art instructor, this topic is near and dear to me. I think the article is way too verbose and would benefit from a fair amount of cutting. Many of the tangent topics are already covered (better) in other wikipedia articles. The format and headings of the modern art article can be used as a solid foundation.

Also, as far as listing contemporary artists, I think the shorter the list the better. A fair listing would be exhaustive, overwhelming and completely unnecessary. Readers simply need to be directed to the "contemporary artists" page. There are a few exemplary artists that should be included in the article, like Robert Smithson. But discussion should focus on specific ideas or approaches these artists introduced that developed contemporary art in general.

I would like to take this challenge on! It may take me a few weeks to get it organized and improved, but I don't think it's an impossible task. I will need and will greatly appreciate your support and input as I tackle this mountain. Thanks!

lonebiker 03:25, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Keep on trucking, biker. Flange P. Vibrator 03:55, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

lonebiker: Don't know where you're at with this, but I now have this on my watch list and keep checking back and offer some input as you go along (all neutral, friendly, non-controverial of course!). Freshacconci 17:57, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

As I am also a contemporary artist, who has a current exhibition going on in Chicago at the ARC Gallery and will be exhibiting in New York in April of 2007, who has taught studio art at the university level, and has degrees in BOTH art history as well as studio art. I disagree strongly with the above statement regarding the listing of contemporary artists would be "exhaustive, overwhelming and completely unnecessary". I would just say the offical salons in France filled volumes and volumes recording contemporary events and artist of their day and posterity is enriched because they did take the time to be comprehensive. Interestingly, many artists who were quite well known in their day when these lists were compiled are today completely forgotten. I surmise the same will be true of Robert Smithson. When one goes to the website of there are many, many artists listed. These lists are important and should not be abbreviated for convenience sake like some volume of readers digest. As any genealogist would tell you many peoples lives are revealed by some small clue. Art historians, and art lovers will in the future relish sitting in some library discovering some volumes as comprehensive today as those of the past. Art4humanists 20:58, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Like Reader's Digest, an encyclopedia article's job is to provide an overview, not an exhaustive study. Currently there are 198 pages listed in the Contemporary Artist category, including the page List of contemporary artists. What's the point of listing them in this article? IrisWings 06:11, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Well in that case, there are 58 MILLION hits when one searches Google by "art in the encyclopedia". It took by the way 0.23 seconds. I think now 198 pages listed in the Contemporary Artist category is far, far too small a selection. The point of listing them in this article is be providing some small information. Again 198 pages is too few pages for this important topic. Art4humanists 20:03 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Doesn't "art in the encyclopedia" include all types of art? Also, just because someone can build a webpage doesn't mean he is a notable artist. My mom is a painter; I'm not going to add her to Wikipedia. :P
Anyway, I still don't understand why they need to be listed here instead of on the Contemporary artists list... IrisWings 06:18, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

But a hyperlink should be provided for easy cross reference to the contemporary artists list should a contemporary artist come up in discussion, at least. Good point. Mark Faraday 21:36 15 December 2006 (UTC)

I think so too. The judicious use of hyperlinks will go a long way to creating a scaffolding for ideas that is both user friendly and informative. Art4humanists 20:50 15 December 2006 (UTC)

A hyperlink to the list under the "See also" section? I agree. IrisWings 07:41, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
(P.S. Were you agreeing with yourself just now, or with my previous comment?)

I was agreeing with your previous comment. As I thought on about it more, it in a sense functions as either an index or a cross reference. Art4Humanists 21:48 17 December 2006 (UTC)

the neutrality in dispute will be near impossible to arrive at

as an "outsider" to what I see has become the hollow traditions of modern art and traditional art, my art was treated with anxiousness and unease at a contemporary art school. I personally don't think "modern art" is dead, and I don't see it as a movement. The current rhetoric about painting and sculpture is that the art object itself is dead. However "modern art" is over if that "modern art" is only an imitation of past modern art. My personal perception, although, it probably won't be unbiased enough for the article, but I'm merely posting for the consideration of another POV, one who understands the "inside" but isn't, is that in the official or academic fields of art what has become power to influence, and power to judge relevancy are actually very subjective and arbitrary standards, which are treated as intelligence, but which are, at least in my opinion, certainly not based on intelligence, but rather ability to posture. From my experience things which are out of the strict mean of contemporary of modern art, things which may even force a question on the accepted values are derided. The post-modern philosophy, is more of an anti-philosophy, sonce it regards wisdom or truth as non-existent. Therefore in order to establish objective standards art must conform to a predetermined sense of the current place in art history, as defined by contemporary or post-modern asscoiation or labels. Academic or traditionalist art seems to be identified with past ideas, and in fact any reference to the past is regarded as undermining the paradoxical verity of the post-modern spirit of the times. To turn the same engine of critique on themselves reveals what may be the ultimate paradox, that all such posturing is hypocritical, and merely acting. I incerely believe you've got no chance on making this article "neutral" since sources about this will inevitably most likely have biased language.

While I agree that almost any source will either over-praise or over-criticize modern art, I still think it's worthwhile to try to present a balanced viewpoint. Since you seem so critical of it, as I am, perhaps you can help by pointing towards some respected sources which criticize modern art in an unbiased way. (And by unbiased, I mean without petty, self-involved disputes.) IrisWings 21:26, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
It's true - the neutrality of this article will always be in dispute. But I think we should look upon that as a good thing. If we had one overarching definition of what art is... how boring that would be! But I think this article is a lot better than it was a few months ago. For a person who doesn't know anything about contemporary art, this is a half-way decent intro. If that is one of our goals, we still have a lot of work to do. I think we should look at the specifics - having a fuller list of artists, movements, info about theory etc. We should keep the overall article as simple, straitfwd and uncritical as possible to avoid despites. A sentence like "There is a museum called the Witney in New York" IS objective, and there is lots of missing INFORMATION in this article. Out job is to describe what a majority of people would understand contemporary art to be. I wish we could get more people interested! 07:07, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

Where do I begin? Ok, for one thing I think several ideas are being mixed up. Ok, the directions art has taken, and I am specifically speaking only of Western art, I will argue, has never been what individuals artists have done, but rather what collectors and patrons have wanted. This is true for example of the following important patrons, or collectors of art: the Christian churches, the Medici family, Cardinal Del Monte, the professional Guilds, the very wealthy, such as the Fricks, Barnes, Guggenheims, Saatchi, etc. The elite, weathly, powerful, influential, are the MOST important part of the equation as to whether this artistic style or that artist is remember at all by posterity. Whether it was Cardinal Del Monte commissioning Caravaggio, Barnes commissioning Matisse, or Peggy Guggenheim commissioning Pollack. The patron, whatever their motives, IS the reason we have the art we have today. This is a completely separate issue from the stupidity of MFA programs in United States universities today, or the pitifull state of today's so-called art critic's capacity to cogitate, or lack thereof of any evidence of ability to cogitate with any gray matter whatsoever, irregardless of whether they have a bias slant one way or the other let alone the more difficult position of a middle way towards neutrality. Art4humanists 20:34, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

All of that is irrelevant. The only thing we should care about as far as this article is concerned is to remove all bias for or against any particular artist, movement, or contemporary art as a whole. This and many of the other art articles are full of opinion and weasel words, though this one has been significantly improved. IrisWings 06:30, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

The periodicals Art News and Art Forum publish every year a feature on the collectors, and patrons today, effectively giving them their very deserving spotlight. Perhaps a trip to the library is in order for F.P. Vibrator. Well. As to the state of our glorious American universities which churn out a thousand or so (more?) MFA graduates year after year, articles voicing the deplorable call into question just that. Indeed. Yes, yes "starving artists", I almost forgot! Perhaps the biggest brainwashing the 19th century saddled us with is this romantic misconception of "starving artists". For up until then, artists were something more that that. Did Vermeer run a brewery? Leonardo raised the sights of artists as something much more than some "starving artist". Was Rubens a diplomat and an ambassador? Albrecht Durer, did he not do something for printmaking? Did he not also make scietific observations of perspective? Too bad so many promising talents limit themselves to being "starving artists" instead of artists who contribute something more to society and civilization. Art4Humanists 22:20 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Now I'm just confused. Are you advocating for or against contemporary art? It seems like universities advocate for it, at least in my experience...
Anyway, the article is only supposed to be informative, not prescriptive, so you won't need to worry either way once it's cleaned up. IrisWings 08:41, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

To wit: I am all for contemporary art, however not sharks in formaldyhyde, human cadavers plasticized, etc., that is exhibited as art. Things may be taught in art school that should do better than that. I have come across an author who writes about contemporary art in the UK, whose name is Julian Stallabrass. This edition was published by Verso in 2006 and its title is 'High Art Lite: The rise and fall of young british art'. I recommend this book. Mark Faraday 02:55, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

A question I have is "Neutrality" even important? If so, why? Art is not an empirical discipline. This or that art is neither right, wrong, better, or worse. "Neutrality" is a reaction to what really is a false dilemma. The Dutch in the 17th c. purchased art to decorate their homes, homes of a growing middle class. The clergy commissioned art to glorify their religion. Charles the V commissioned Titian to immortalized the Hapsburg dynasty, much as weathly patrons commission artists today for philanthropic reasons. Why should there be neutrality? The 17th c. Dutch guilds would not have been neutral in the imagery, that they wanted to surround themselves with. There is NO NEUTRALITY. The Catholic Queen Catherine D'Medici did not commission a protestant artist like Rembrandt, she commissioned a catholic artist like Rubens. Why? Because she was not interested in being neutral. And neither am I. The artists I prefer are the artists I prefer to to this or that other artist because I AM NOT NEUTRAL! I HAVE A PREFERENCE! I don't like Damien Hirst's works. Somebody may love Damien Hirst's works. That is fine because my choice of whether or not I like Damien Hirst's work is not a dilemma to me. There is no dilemma in chosing this artist's work or that artist's work. Hence since the dilemma question is FALSE, "neutrality" is a non-issue. Mark Faraday 03:21, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Neutrality matters here because this is an encyclopedia. It exists to give the facts and let people make an informed choice on their own. While it's true that people often make bad choices, this isn't the place to deter them from it. In fact, using Wikipedia to denounce any ideas, no matter how trivial or even reprehensible they are, will only make readers think the person adding the POV is a radical or a zealot.
Politics and religion are no more empirical than art, and I'm sure contributors in those subjects struggle just as much with maintaining neutrality. Meanwhile, I'm not sure this discussion is still relevant to the article... IrisWings 04:56, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

As I re-think the first encyclopedists like Diderot, I am somewhat sceptical that Diderot did not have a POV. I might even say all the original encyclopedists have a POV that benefitted the Enlightenment. One example, controversial at the time, is Diderot's advocation of museums, or places where anyone without regard to status would be able to have access to art. A POV very controversial in Diderot's day. But I understand the point being made. Mark Faraday 05:20, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I think we should cut off this debate about neutrality. There is an exhaustive and well-thought-out policy under Wikipedia:Neutral point of view which addresses all the issues being debated here. I think this debate about Diderot, POV, MFA programs, patrons, "starving artist" myths and viability of YBA's sculpture is an interesting one, but that this is the wrong forum. Meanwhile, the article has been neglected. I think this type of debate will be more useful when we are "polishing" the article, but there are still so many BASICS that need to be addressed in terms of artists, trends, theories, and institutions that need to be included. Plus there are related articles such as contemporary art gallery. Master of Fine Arts could surely benefit from M. Faraday's attentions. But I think this would be a much more interesting if instead of debating abstractions, we were talking about changes we had made in the article. I recently made some changes to the history section; R. Prince, C. Sherman and Postmodernism. I'm not very happy with how the whole history section goes, so please edit ruthlessly...Flange P. Vibrator 16:33, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I wlecome an entry on contemporary art, but who is going to monitor the moment when an artist is no longer "contemporary." Is that when he or she dies? But some are already dead who are still considered "contemporary" at least for a while. In 20 years there will still be contemporary artists, but the artists of today will not.

I also think the best definition is stated in the first sentences - i.e. this is very much gallery driven. It is not a style and thus unlike Modernism too openended to have a history. One would have to state that within contemporary art there are several trends, and then fine tune that. The term in other words is too global to be of art historical relevance.Wolfensberger 23:13, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Many people agree with you, Wolfensberger, that galleries (etc.) control contemporary art. Our article is missing info about this topic. This is usually called the "art world" theory, and much has been said about it - see especially A. Danto; would you care to do some research and get our article up to speed? Flange P. Vibrator 23:28, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Would regionalism work? If trends appear that are significantly different from one region to the next would that be something that could repay (?) close attention? Mark Faraday 04:09, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

The section "history of contemporary art" starts off with a confusion between the terms "contemporary" and "postmodern." I think that the discussion of Duchamp is really "pre-history" and is irrelevant to this article, perhaps revelant to postmodern art. Any objections if I kill it?

WikiProject Contemporary Art

FYI - There is a discussion related to this article to be found at Wikipedia:WikiProject Contemporary Art. This "Project" has the goal of improving this article, but much of the discussion seems to be happening here. Flange P. Vibrator 23:28, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Parallel Galleries

If no one objects, I may put a section in on the development of parallel galleries and artist-run-centres, which also seems to be symptomatic of the shift from Modern to Contemporary Art. Artistic autonomy, and the freedom from the hegemony of the traditional gallery system, commodification, blah blah blah Thamiel

Especially blah blah blah. There's a page on Not-for-profit arts organization that you may want to link to (plus improve in its own right). Freshacconci 18:04, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Contemporary art stretches back 50 years

Contemporary art, in the year 2007, stretches back about 50 years. The term "postmodern," and it's meaning, does not have bearing on it's being "contemporary." Contemporary is only a term that can be defined for now, so we need not fret over how it will apply in 5 or 10 or 20 years from now. It may or it may not have the same meaning in the future. It is a term that may not be used in the future. But we need to define it for now. There is too much ambiguity about such art related terms. Bus stop 06:33, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

I find this article loony. There is little need for reference to individual artists, artworks, or movements, in this article. The subject of this article should be: What does the term contemporary art refer to? And the subject should be what criteria constitutes contemporary. Those factors might include time periods and relevance. In fact, those are the two factors that I think can be used to define contemporary art. I think, we can say that a few decades back in time is as far as the term contemporary can include. But another factor, that has bearing on the first, is the relevancy of a given artwork to the sorts of concerns that some artists are grappling with in the recent past. It is fairly subjective. It can't be defined definitively. But that's what it means. I find much of the present writing in the article as it stands entirely besides the point. Bus stop 05:56, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

What is the point to the long list of artists? The list could be many times as long and still not be inclusive of all or most contemporary artists. An article can't be written on Wikipedia that presents the definitive narrative of what contemporary art has been about. It is too large a subject. And it is open to multiple interpretation. A list can be made, in alphabetical or chronological order, of the movements considered to be presently considered a part of contemporary art. But those movements would have to be considered in separate articles, because the integration of movements with one another is fraught with the danger of personal interpretation. Therefore the article as presently written is inherently faulty. Bus stop 15:36, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree with you. Who to list? Who not to list? Historical art, with all its flaws, at least has some degree of standardization for the "canon" (for good or bad). We can all accept Picasso and van Gogh, etc. and we can all (I think) accept some revisionism to allow minor figures into the history as well, but how can this be done in contemporary art? It's always changing by definition. Movements, trends and tendencies can be listed with links to seperate pages which can then indicate which artists are considered important to say YBA, or whatever. But the list here is pointless and should ultimately be removed. Freshacconci 15:45, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

There is already a list of contemporary artists - see . But I DO think that there is room for listing contemporary artists here. Yes, it is difficult to decide who to list and who to cut - ah, the editor's lot is a hard one, is it not? While this article cannot be entirely objective, we can strive to report what a concensus of people agree on. The solution to the problem of a biased or subjective article is not to UNWRITE the article, but to edit out unsubstatiated phrases, find citations, and reach an agreement as a group of editors. Flange P. Vibrator 06:44, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

I only suggest the list as a concession to those who, in my opinion, are making more out of this article than properly should be made of it. In looking over the article again, I noticed the section on "Prizes in contemporary art." I think that sort of thing can stay too, in addition to the list sort of thing, especially of movements. Movements are a little more manageable in number. A list of artists is not a good idea at all. It could never include all or even most. But what I object to most of all, in this article, is interpretation. No one needs to learn from this article what is relevant in contemporary art. In this article no one needs to be educated about what movements emerged from what movements and what caused that evolution. This article properly should deal with the term "contemporary art" in the abstract. Our concern should be to define how it should be used today. Needless to say, we are concerned with how the term will apply in the future. But we can't possibly predict the future. So this article should concern itself with fleshing out the term as regards the length of time backwards that it applies, and how something gains inclusion in this term. Some works of art are considered more concerned with the present than are others. But too much emphasis should not be placed on this. Obviously there are the museums and galleries that try to present what represents new ideas. But time is the number one factor in determining what is contemporary. Bus stop 16:18, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

I think there are two articles at once going on in this article. I don't think the subject matter of this article is the explanation of what has taken place in contemporary art. Nor is the subject what the antecedents are of contemporary art. That sort of treatment would take an essay, and would almost necessarily have to be interpretive, therefore subjective. This article should define how the term contemporary art applies and should be used. That is not a dictionary definition. That is a handling of the usage aspects of this phrase. It could, and it should, be explained that contemporary art is the phrase that now serves where the term modern art once served, when speaking of art produced in the past few decades. That doesn't mean going into an overly detailed explanation of what postmodernism refers to. A link to postmodernism would suffice. What I am saying is that much that is in this article does not belong there. There should not be any individual artists mentioned at all. The concept of contemporary art is not dependent on the naming of the participants. They are too numerous to mention. This is not an article for an editor to interpret what was significant in contemporary art. It is sufficient to note that there was serious art made and displayed in galleries and museums. Do we really need to know that an art critic felt that art history "came to an end with the making of Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes?" Contemporary art, as used today, refers to the serious art produced in the past few decades that is displayed in the galleries and museums of contemporary art. It can be explained that the number of collectors has increased, if that be the case. It can be mentioned that the amount of museum space devoted to contemporary art has increased, if that be the case. But, in the context of this article, it is just fluff to point out such things as, for instance, the lineage from Duchamp to Rauchenberg to Postmodernism. This is not an article about a particular understanding of the treads of thinking that have gone into contemporary art. This article should show how to use the term. There is much ambiguity about the usage of terms such as contemporary art, visual art, fine art, modern art. Terms such as abstract art and Postmodernism could use better defining. Links could be provided to those other terms. I think the interpretation that fills out much of this article needs to be trimmed away. Bus stop 08:06, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

This is not an article on the history of contemporary art. That article would be called "A History of Contemporary Art," and it would be an essay. This is not an article describing someone's "Theory Of Contemporary Art." That could be a title of an essay, elsewhere. The word, or the phrase, "contemporary art" refers to the serious art being produced in our time, and which is displayed in our museums and galleries. The word, or phrase, "contemporary art," has become the favored phrase over the previously favored phrase, "modern art." This is important to know. Writers and readers have to know that. It does not matter whether the contemporary art is postmodern or not. This article is not (should not be) about interpreting the nature of contemporary art. Suffice to say that contemporary art is made in two dimensions as well as three dimensions. The obvious could be stated: that new technology is incorporated into some contemporary art, and that new technology is used to make some contemporary art. But that is stating the obvious. That is true at probably every point in time. Some contemporary art addresses social issues. That could be stated. But a delving into the social issues addressed by contemporary art is not what this article should be about. The article as it stands needs to be seriously pared away. Bus stop 17:16, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

The phrase contemporary art is the preferred phrase for the serious art being produced in the present point in time. It seems to replace the formerly preeminent phrase modern art, for a similar usage. No specific time period has been assigned to the term, but it is understood to bear relevance to the present. Thus art produced as long ago as 50 years ago could presumably be included in the phrase contemporary art, in some usages. Bus stop 21:28, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Woah! Many changes! Well, I agree that the article was way too long before, and overly descriptive, but I really think that it has been edited to oblivion recently, by a few editors who seem to have a very strong opinion that the article should be only a simple description of how the term "contemporary art" is used in the abstract. While I honestly do applaud the vociferous editing (this is the only way wikipedia can work) I object to most of these changes. If someone completely unfamiliar with the term read this version of the article they would be missing many of the ideas associated with the idea of contemporary art. I think a list with links to the different movements is not enough. This is the page where we give an overview of the movements so that someone can begin to familiarize themselves with the terms and relationships between them. This kind of overview will not be found in the individual articles. I strongly object to the complete deletion of the history of contemporary art. History is not a thing separate from a definition. We must include a short history to give context and interest to the article. Finally, as it stands, the article is short, but not sweet - indeed it is mosre biased and full of non sequiturs as it has been in a long time. This kind of minimal definition may satisfy some pure, formalist side of one's psyche, but it is of little use to the general reader. In short, previous incarnations of the article were not very well written, but as it stands it is hardly written at all! Respectfully, Flange P. Vibrator 06:03, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

So I did go back and copy a lot of text from previous versions back in, including the section on history and theory. I hope this is seen as a constructive move, even if you disagree... I did NOT simply revert. Bus stop, in the edit where you did your master erase, you claimed that we need to purge the article in order to start anew. Although I agree the article is a bit of a tangled mess, and I can admire your urge to "cut the Gordian knot," I think there are many people who have edited this article that favor a more inclusive and historically oriented definition. I'd love for you to prune the article here and there - it certainly needs it - and major reorganizational changes may be in order. But don't be surprized when you make such drastic changes to find editors who drastically change things back. Flange P. Vibrator 06:44, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

Flange P. Vibrator -- Contemporary art is the primary and preferred term to use to refer to the production in the visual arts today. That is not an unimportant point. Anything that overshadows that point probably does a disservice to the article, and therefore the reader. It is very important that "contemporary art," "visual art," and "modern art" are understood as terms. The reader has a free mind. They will form the associations between different artworks as they choose. They need little instruction in doing that. Where the need exists is to clarify how the primary terms are applied. I have my doubts about whether one can describe movements and artists and artworks and concepts and concerns, in the artwork that has been produced in the recent past without introducing personal bias, and interpretation. I fundamentally do not think a reader of a Wikipedia article under the heading "Contemporary art" should be subject to anyone's thinking on what has transpired in art in the past few years. That would even apply to the introduction of the term postmodernism, I would think. I see "contemporary art" as a purely clinical term that this article should treat in a detached way, so as not to taint the reader with anyone's personal biases. It happens to be the term that more than any other term heads up all that is going on presently in the production of "serious" visual art. I don't know what geographic area I should say that includes, but it would at least include the United States. I think perhaps a separate article could treat the subject as I think you have suggested. What would that article be called -- "An Overview of Recent Developments in Contemporary Art?" Wouldn't that quickly degenerate into an essay representing just one particular point of view? Wouldn't it be biased? The problem is that when you try to arrange the "threads" in art over time, you start to present your own personal picture of what transpired, why it transpired, what it's significance is. In short, you weave a story. The weaving of that story I think should be left to reader, and not presented to the reader in a predigested form. Bus stop 06:50, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

I was upset to see the complete reversion of the edit in which I restored a lot of text that was previously cut. It offended me because it violated some of the guidelines set on wikipedia's article on the "manners" of reversion - please check them out. This is why I had not reverted the article, but copied in text from previous articles, adjusting to some of your changes. . This article has undergone a complete change from last year, and the overall quality has suffered - the quality of the writing currently is rather low. I strongly favor having a explication of the various movements and ideas in contemporary art, and I intend to copy back in this material, as it's loss is hurting the article. If some of the recent editors think that this article should focus on one particular, limited and formal definition of "contemporary," that is fine, but the article should be open to other's editing. I think you are taking a very philosphically limited p.o.v. on what it means to be neutral - there are clear guidelines under wikipedia:neutral point of view that you should check out (it is actually a pretty interesting read). I understand that this is a "current" controversial topic, and that biases may be apparent in writing about history and theory, but I do not think that the answer is eliminating those topics. Your "clinical" definition would be a great starting point for an article, and then we should do the best we can to create an article that is neutral. The "overview of recent events in contemporary art" article you suggest - that would be much more useful if just put under a that heading in THIS article (as it is in many article similar to this one). I know this may be "weaving a story," but it need not be OUR story, it can be a commonly accepted version, one that includes info about artist, movements, places, etc. You say the reader has a "free mind" to "form associations" between different artworks, but their freedom depends on their having the information to form such an analysis. And if the reader has a free mind, she can disagree with the article, do her own research, and edit the article. After all, every article in wikipedia represents a "story" about a specific topic - neutrality is an ideal to strive for, not an concrete descriptor. Your criticism of this article could be used to gut a majority of text found on wikipedia, and so I say that it is not in the spirit of the enterprise. Respectfully, Flange P. Vibrator 23:41, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

Flange P. Vibrator -- Contemporary art is the growing edge of art history. I find that it is a contradiction to sum up what is inchoate. This article alone should be free of conclusions. The term "contemporary art" means, if it means anything, that which has not yet been assigned a slot in the history of art. If at it's inception it were already understood, there would be no reason for a serious artist to make it. No artist makes Pop art. No artist makes Postmodern art. These are movements. It is OK to describe art in formalistic terms the moment it is produced. Even before the canvas is dry, one can feel free to refer to it's "hard edge" forms. But it's real significance, if it is significant at all, is to be found in the sorts of things you are referring to. When one speaks about "movements" one is digging deeper to find what is hidden behind it's formal qualities. Therein lies the problem. For it to be "contemporary" it is inherently unanalyzed. It bears pointing out that even older art is open to reanalysis. Thus "contemporary art," whether produced this week or a few decades ago, is art that has been deemed unanalyzed. For the purpose of using the term "contemporary art," one should not be pigeonholing it in any way, except of course, in accordance with it's formalistic characteristics. Thus, one would describe all the features that one can about a work of contemporary art, but one would not interpret it. One could say it was a print. One could even say it is a serigraph that bears a superficial resemblance to some of the work of Andy Warhol. But once one says that, for instance, it "is in reaction to the heightened consumerism in our culture," one has gone beyond mere description and veered into the area of interpretation. This article, being about contemporary art, should steer clear of interpretation. That is contradictory to "contemporary art." Bus stop 00:39, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

About "art related terms" - this paragraph is poorly organized, contains many simple grammar mistakes, has many vague sentences, does not stick to the topic, is overly casual and most importantly, does not seem relevant to this topic specifically. I am cutting it. Flange P. Vibrator 23:48, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

First, I'd not normally mention this, but as you seem keen on pointing out other people's poor English, you might avoid the greengrocer's apostrophe — it's a bit distracting (and "surprise" isn't spelt with a "z" even in the U.S.).
Secondly, and more importantly, you seem to have a very definite idea about how the article should look, and have been inserting and deleting large chunks of text accordingly, without discussion. That's not forbidden, and sometimes it's the best approach, but in this case it's rather over the top, especially as your view of how the article should read seems to go against Wikipedia's (or any good encyclopædia's) style. You complain about "clinical" definitions, remove accurate statements because they use terms that are too technical, want the article to tell a story ... Disinterested and dispassionate accuracy and clarity are what we're aiming for; you seem to want the article to read like art criticism, which is usually none of those things.
I agree that the article needs to be improved – that's why I added {{cleanup}} – but could major changes be discussed here before being made? --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:17, 12 January 2007 (UTC)


The article is growing without due care and attention to wikistyle. Moreover, the new material (some of in the form of inadequately explained lists of internal links) is either repetitive or not clearly suitable for this article; much of it is relevant to art in general (and I haven't looked, but I'd be surprised if it weren't covered at Art). --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 21:01, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

I don't feel the need is great for, for instance, explaining the significance of art, or art movements. In fact I think that is counterproductive. It is interpretive, and it reflects a personal point of view. But I think that the clear use of language when talking about the visual arts is important. The pivotal issue, I think, in the writing of this article, concerns what more to say, beyond the terse definition of the term "contemporary art." I think, in the final analysis, very little more is called for. But I felt there was very little harm done in dividing up terms that apply in some way or another to the visual arts in some way that made some kind of sense. I don't necessarily think my categories are the best ones that could be chosen. I just thought I would introduce that change, hoping others would alter it in a way that perhaps made more sense. The trouble with introducing links to terms is that it is arbitrary, and there is no limit to how large such a list could grow. I have only included links to Wikipedia articles. That is a limiting factor. But I will agree the list to internal links is not absolutely essential to the core definition of "contemporary art." Bus stop 21:40, 11 January 2007 (UTC)
This wasn't a criticism of you, or of anybody; it's just a call for the article to be cleaned up in line with the Manual of Style, etc. The section headings need to be properly capitalised, for example, and while the content of the lists might well be appropriate and relevant, they'd be much better embedded in text that explained their importance and rôles. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:32, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

I'm afraid that it's now even worse; the English needs considerable copy-editing for both syntax & style, and the summary contains both unencyclopædic language and original research. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 20:18, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Wow, this is pretty much the worst page wikipedia has to offer.

User: -- Why, what is the problem? Can you be specific? Bus stop 21:48, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

The talk page is longer than the article! I've taken the liberty of cleaning up the article and making the expression more succinct. Somebody had to do it.--Ethicoaestheticist 21:07, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

Ethicoaestheticist -- I'm sorry but I've reverted your edit. Please use this, the Talk page. Explain what you want changed, and why. You exclaim that the Talk page is longer than the article. There is no reason why it should not be. Bus stop 22:00, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

I'm inclined to agree with Bus stop here. Slash-and-burn editing isn't very helpful, especially in articles such as this, which have had gradual edits by many different editors. Something more considered, and discussions in the talk page, are more useful. And yes, a longer talk page is an indication that editors have put some thought into what they're doing, not just making quick gut-level edits. Freshacconci 22:05, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

No offence meant. I wasn't trying to slash-and-burn, simply responding to the appeal to clean-up the article, which was re-iterated by other posters. The comment about the talk page was merely to indicate that the comments were long-winded compared to other talk-pages, discussing the philosphical underpinnings of the article, rather than it's written style. My changes were primarily stylistic. The original article could benefit from more concise expression. With clarity of expression, the article could expand to embrace some of the philosophical concerns of other posters.--Ethicoaestheticist 23:15, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

The first paragraph essentially says that contemporary art is recently produced art (which can include art produced several decades ago). The extra sentences sound overly defensive, particularly the use of the word 'superficially'.--Ethicoaestheticist 23:30, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

'Indexically' is art jargon and could be removed for general readership.--Ethicoaestheticist 23:32, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

"An artwork "passes comment" on art" is POV. The whole paragraph needs some work to make the point more succinctly.--Ethicoaestheticist 23:34, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

The content of the sixth para of 'The Term Contemporary Art' is conveyed clearly in the first sentence. The extra sentences add little to the meaning.--Ethicoaestheticist 23:37, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

The discussion of 'hard-edged' and 'lyrical abstraction' is digressive. It is enough to say that movements are a short-hand explanation. More familiar movements could be chosen if needed.--Ethicoaestheticist 23:41, 19 February 2007 (UTC)


This is a meandering essay without one reference to substantiate any statement in it. It should be slashed to a stub and built up carefully. I did a quick trim, but it needs a lot more. Tyrenius 00:45, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

World View

There seem to be two problems: 1) where do you draw the line, historically, between past art and contemporary art? and 2) how do you decide what the common features of contemporary art are (given that it is not yet historical)? A possible solution would be to invite alternative local views as different sub-headings. So, for instance, the 'contemporary' art of New York would have different antecedents and motivations than the 'contemporary' art of London, Paris or Tokyo. It may also be the case that geographically disparate 'contemporaries' would define the historical boundaries differently (perhaps as far back as fifty years or as recent as five years, particularly where there are notable recent 'movements'). Just an idea - and not without it's pitfalls (the same problems of notability and consensus but on a more regional scale!). But at least we could start talking about actual artists. Anyway, what do people think?--Ethicoaestheticist 00:03, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Everything is historical except for that which is contemporary, as concerns visual art. It makes no difference whether you are talking about New York, Tokyo, or London. Ideally, we are talking about art that is emerging from the artists' studios now. That is what I think this article is about. There could be an article on "art produced in London in the 1990's." That is "almost" contemporary. But it is historical. That is the distinction that I think we are really discussing. I think this article should be purely about Contemporary art. Reference to artists, movements, antecedents -- should be scrupulously avoided, in my opinion. Any such reference is necessarily historical. That is distinct from contemporary. Bus stop 00:25, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

What does the Art Terms section have to do with Contemp art?

This section needs to be rewritten in such a way as to make it relate better to the term "contemorary art." Right now it doesn't seem to have any direct relevance to anything, especially given the definition of Contemp art given in the intro. I would suggest cutting it completely unless something can be done to tie it in better to the main subject of the article. Right now it just floats there as a non-sequitur. --Lendorien 18:39, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

You raise a valid concern. I too have felt it might not fit well. I feel it fits because of the importance of description in our relating to contemporary art. It does float there as a non sequitur, I agree. What I would try to do, is connect it to description, as concerns contemporary art. It is really just an excerpt from what could be an expanded treatise on how to describe visual art. But right now it occupies a pitiful mid-ground, and it is misplaced. Perhaps a first step might involve moving the paragraph up to where the suggestion about description is, and then providing connective tissue so that it makes more sense. I can't do it right now. Bus stop 19:42, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Recent changes

Good start, Bus stop, keep working and developing those new categories. Modernist 22:54, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, that's the fastest I ever wrote anything on Wikipedia. Well, I more just moved things around than really wrote much. Bus stop 23:47, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Something that might be of interest

Check out an interview from just a few days ago between Charlie Rose and Chuck Close. One hour interview: [1] Click on the link for Chuck Close. He is an artist. Interview date: March 13, 2007. Bus stop 00:44, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Check out this interview too. It is with a photographer named Taryn Simon. This interview is also conducted by Charlie Rose, on the March 16, 2007 show. [2] Bus stop 03:06, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Beginning thorough rewrite

This page is:

  • POV
  • Unbalanced
  • Orginal Research
  • Inaccurate
  • Dishonest in the extreme.
  • Normative rather than descriptive.

It ignores major institutions, major critics and major catagories of usage. While having a $100 million dollar building doesn't make a point of view right - it does make that point of view notable. NPOV requires documenting notable points of view, the stated reasons for holding them, and the contexts that the reader looking up the term should expect a particular usage.

Stirling Newberry 02:03, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I think that the article is about contemporary art. I think that brief allusions can be made to relevant tangential concerns. I don't think this article is a jumping off point for examinations of all the art movements and theoretical concerns of many years. There is no beginning and there is no end to such a discussion. One can write an article on the prominent artworks of the past fifty years, and their related intellectual commentary. I don't think this article is about that. I think that this should be an article as free of jargon as possible. There is no "contemporary" artist in the world that sets about making "postmodern" art, or "pop" art, or even "conceptual" art. If it is contemporary, then it precedes that categorization. That categorization takes place at a later time. Bus stop 13:56, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Bad article

This is a bad description of Contemporary Art... it basically states that art created today is Contemporary Art. That's just bogus. There's lots of art being created today that is not Contemporary (i.e., is traditional, is minimalist, is abstract expressionist, etc.). And there's art that is 40-ish years old that is Contemporary. Contemporary Art is a style, not a time period.--Simenzo

One of the problems with the article is that it has been dominated by defining the term, which has led to a certain stubbish circularity - contemporary art is the art of the present, end of. I've looked at some other 'contemporary' articles to see how they deal with the problem: Contemporary poetry doesn't exist, contemporary literature is a stub, but contemporary music could serve as a model for how the article can expand.--Ethicoaestheticist 19:05, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
Give it your best shot, although I kind of like those decade by decade movements. Modernist 03:46, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
This article is going from bad to worse! Modernist 19:28, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps the best approach would be to simply to define Contemporary Art as the art movements that have arose after Minimalism (i.e., Pop art on). It's probably worth also giving shout-outs to Duchamp, Rauchenberg, and Johns for being the heralds of Contemporary Art.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
  • Please. Those artists and issues are all amply covered elsewhere. The current ambiguity of this article is sound and open ended as it should be, but still needs improvement. Modernist 01:31, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
Isn't this an article about art being produced now? Isn't that what contemporary art really is? Why delve into historical art at all? Why drag out the opinions of someone (Arthur Danto) who is really commenting on art that has been produced? Why should we weigh down the article with past art movements? An article on art of the twentieth century, for instance, could do that. Any article that chooses to cover any art historical scope can be written. Why expand the strictly present production of art into the area of that which is, strictly speaking, art historical? Bus stop 15:07, 6 July 2007 (UT
Again, Contemporary Art does not equal "art being produced now." It's a natural misunderstanding, but the article should be very clear that it isn't an appropriate definition. Contemporary Art dates from the late 1960s with the rise of Pop Art (and incidentally, I'd suggest pulling out the references to Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism, both of which are really Modern Art). Also, I disagree with advocating ambiguity--this article should be as clear as possible. Does anyone disagree with the idea that Contemporary Art consists of the art movements that have arose since Modernism? If that's generally agreed upon, why not make that the center of the definiton?--Simenzo
I added the Arthur Danto part because it is a specific reference for a particular definition of contemporary art. Yes, Danto is writing about art since the 1970s, which does include the past as well as the present (at least at the time of publication); but he is explaining one way in which the term is used, and this is its relevance to the article. The two opinions above correspond to the two main definitions of contemporary art stated in the lead, and both need to be represented. I do though agree with Bus stop and Modernist that the article shouldn't be weighed down with an historical account that is covered amply elsewhere.--Ethicoaestheticist 20:06, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
An article can be written with any scope. An article can be written about serious art in the United States in the 1990s. An article can be written about art produced since World War Two. I don't think an article about contemporary art should be tied to theories and narratives. The theories and narratives conflict with one another, and most importantly, they conflict with the art produced now.
Art is nothing if not changing. If you are writing about contemporary art the one sure way to miss the mark is to recount the past. That would seem to me to be the most grave error you could make. New art is inevitably disconnected (to some degree) from the past. It would not qualify as serious art if it relied on anything formulaic.
The table recounting the decades is not even necessary. The 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and the 2000s are not really contemporary. They are over. They are history. I thought the table was harmless enough because it confined the art movements to one or two word entries in columns.
I think we should think long and hard about what to add to an article such as this, and we should tend to err on the side of leaving things out. Almost anything put in is merely a concession to people's misguided expectations.
I think it is not problematic to mention that there is a differentiation widely acknowledged between what is considered serious art and that which is not considered serious art and therefore never makes its way into the world of museums and galleries and serious collections. That is an important conundrum that could be referenced.
I don't mind mention of "modern art" and "postmodern art," not because I think those concepts have any relevance to contemporary art, but because people expect that issue to be addressed. Since people might be coming to the article because they want to know how those two concepts relate to contemporary art it serves the article well to briefly mention what is understood about that.
In general this article shouldn't be telling people what to think. It doesn't matter if it's Arthur Danto's story or someone else's. The stories are unending. There are always other stories to explain what has transpired. I think that ideally Contemporary art should be little more than a stub of an article. I think that concerning contemporary art, ideally, the past is the least likely indicator or description of the present. As long as we are talking about the past we can be sure we are not talking about the present.
I think an ideal we can strive for is to write an article on contemporary art that will be applicable to future "contemporary arts." Of course the term might not be used. But I think that is the correct mindset to have in writing this. We should be speaking about the fairly timeless concept of contemporary art, not today's version of it. Bus stop 21:56, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Title needs to be changed?

I think this is a hopeless title. 'Today's art' will not be today's art at any time in the future you care to pick. Indeed the art of the 1960s is already not today's. Suggest moving to Art of the late 20th century. Filiocht 10:11, 9 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Sure, I agree, but we're not creating terms here, just defining them. As far as I'm aware the term 'contemporary art' does, in popular culture, refer to art from around the 60s/70s and onwards, and, yes, current art too. I imagine people started to have the same problem with the name modern art when it was referring to both the current art of the time and art from the late 19th century, too. (And I imagine that's why the new phrase of contemporary art came into existence.) But I'm pretty sure this naming convention is as it is in the art world, and therefore how it should be on Wikipedia too. I think we should leave it as it is. --Chopchopwhitey 08:45, 11 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Agree with Chopchopwhitey. Contemporary art is a very widespread term, used in many museums and institutions' names, subject of many courses at universities, appearing in a lot of professional literature, and it does refer to "60s till now". Sure, our idea about what it is, will change in, say, 10 years, but the very nature of Wikipedia should enable us to keep pace with that. --Spinster 16:05, 11 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Also, there's a very good chance that Contemporary Art won't be a shifting temporal window, but rather a particular section of art history. Look at Modern Art--it designates art styles from 1900-ish until the early 1960's. Modern Art is no longer modern. A lot of Contemporary Art is no longer very contemporary, but it is still called Contemporary Art.Simenzo 15:15, 9 July 2007 (UTC)


Why are we hypothesizing about the role of Impressionism or Duchamp's Fountain on the state of Contemporary art? I say remove any such reference. Put it in an article on the history of twentieth century art, if need be. It is essay like. An article on Contemporary art does not have to trace the causes of present artistic activity. That is purely interpretive. It should be left out. The name of the article isn't "The origins of contemporary art." Bus stop 02:17, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't mind seeing various sources of inspiration for contemporary art included. Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, Miro, Kandinsky, and various other first rate 20th century pioneers should be added if Duchamp remains. Personally I'd vote for Guernica or The Dance over the urinal. Modernist 03:50, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Duchamp is different than the other artists you mention. Duchamp really laid down the basis for Post-Modernism (appropriation, irony, the opening up of the definition of art, installation art, etc.) whereas the other artists are firmly Modern.Simenzo 15:15, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

They should all go. No one has the foggiest idea about the origins of Contemporary art, because it is contemporary. The most contemporary art is being made now, or was made recently. The most recently made art is not analyzed. It is barely known. It is presumptuous to point to origins for something that is being looked at for the first time. That is for a different article. That is for an article on threads in the visual arts running through the twentieth century. Even if you wanted to write an article about the visual art of the 1990's those people and works of art that you've cited might find applicability. But the article's title is Contemporary art. Therefore the primary focus is the most recently made art. It is axiomatic that that art is only now, or very recently, being looked at, and thought about. It makes no sense to tie the most new art to any development in art in the past. In fact it is reckless. It is pure hubris to pontificate about the influence of Duchamp on what artists are now making. The artists who are now making Contemporary art may not even be able to tell you what historical precedents led to the work they are now doing. It may make some sense to say that an understanding has been articulated between Duchamp and an artwork made ten years ago. But even that is historical. That is for a different article. Contemporary art is that art which is being produced now. Bus stop 04:17, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

The idea that Contemporary Art is the same as Art Being Produced Now is taking the term overly literally. Clearly not all art being produced today is Contemporary (e.g., the flower still life you can buy at the local art & wine festival). If you look at how museums classify the art, generally speaking Modern Art is Cubism through Minimalism and Contemporary Art is everything after that (i.e., Pop Art on).
While I enjoy your point of view I don't entirely agree with the premise that art made today, or tomorrow, or yesterday doesn't relate to other works of art. There is this idea that art is not made in a vacuum, art comes from art, artists have sources of inspirations, Gertrude Stein said - concerning Picasso - "he was always working", "he was the one who always worked," and she also said "Genius is knowing who to be influenced by." Artists work, art gets made, it seems to be a continuum often with surprise and resonance with humanity. Although I entirely agree that the Duchamp reference is tired, and the most important idea about new art - is it is new, hasn't been seen before, and its newness cannot be proscribed or described. Modernist 04:49, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

I did not say that art made today does not relate to art made yesterday. I did not say that one work of art does not relate to another work of art. I said nothing of the sort. I find it to be empty pontification though, to relate art that one knows little to nothing about, which describes Contemporary art, to some work of art from the past. At some point in time someone will spin a tale about how today's art relates to yesterday's art, and it will have resonance with people. That will become the tale that people repeat. But that hot air has not yet been uttered about the most recently produced art. That is why I think we should resist the urge to bring into this article all the usual suspects in recent art history. Bus stop 05:20, 15 March 2007 (UTC)


Consensus has been hard to obtain for this article, and perhaps it is doomed to stubbishness. Contemporary is a slippery term. As Heraclitus says, you can't step into the same river twice because it always changes. And, contemporary practice is various, with different histories and influences. Can we agree on the following:
1) The view that contemporary art is art since ???? (add date according to referenced sources — 1900, 1940s, 50s, 90s whatever) should be stated but is not used to introduce a long historical analysis.
2) That the list of movements remains (because it acknowledges that contemporary art can be defined as late twentieth century art in general, but doesn't go into any detail, and takes interested readers who start from this position to relevant articles.)
I don't want this to restrict development of the article however and urge editors to be bold as ways out of the impasse might be suggested. Please remember though that the subject is contentious and citations are appreciated!--Ethicoaestheticist 23:23, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree with the metaphor of a moving river, although I think contemporary art - like fashion occassionally seems to reverse itself, seemingly looking forward, not backward. Modernist 23:47, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
Again, I think the confusion is people thinking that Contemporary Art (with capitals) equals contemporary art (with lower case). The term is really meant to indicate art that was created after Modern Art (and done in a non-historical style). The term didn't come into usage until the 1970s (when people wanted to distinguish their art from Modern Art). This is how the term is generally used by museums, critics, and galleries. The term has never had a shifting temporal window (i.e., art has never gone from being described as "Contemporary Art" to being called something else), so I think all the hand-wringing on that account is completely unfounded (and even if it isn't unfounded, premature--let's cross that bridge if it ever becomes an issue). I'd suggest basically using the "after Modern Art" definition (and, consequently, lop off Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism from the article's timeline of Contemporary Art).--Simenzo
The distinction between Contemporary art and Postmodern art is stated in the article as being somewhat absent. I'm referring to where it says, "The term contemporary art can also be used synonymously with postmodern art." Why do we have two terms for the same thing?
Terms such as modern art and postmodern art refer more to approaches to art criticism than they do to the periods of art that they cover. The modern art period is called such because of the art critical approach to speaking about the art of that period. The period of postmodern art is defined by the approach to thinking about and describing and otherwise talking about the art of the so-called postmodern art period. Art criticism is basically the evaluating of quality in art, and telling other stories associated with artworks. When art critics take a different approach to speaking about art, that results in the labeling of a period in art. Art is constantly changing, so the name of the method of criticism accepted for the time that the artwork was created becomes associated with that artwork. But I do not think artists are concerned except perhaps in a token way with the prevailing method of art criticism. Their concerns are with art, not with art criticism. It really makes no difference if sources can be found which say that contemporary art is art produced since the middle of the twentieth century. It is an editorial decision to include that or to leave that out. I don't think it is original research to leave something out. The article Postmodern art exists for all those art critical stories. And the Postmodern art article certainly can also say that Postmodern art is synonymous with Contemporary art. But to best use this article those same stories shouldn't be repeated here. Postmodern is much more an intellectual term with strong ties to art criticism. Contemporary is just a word meaning happening at the same time. Why add all the intellectual, art historical "baggage" to a simple term that can be understood as the art emerging at the present time?
Just because there is a source for something is no reason to include it in an article if it is nonsense. It is an editorial decision what to put in an article. A source saying that what contemporary art includes or excludes can be ignored, in whole or in part. The stories that connect artworks are like the filamentary plant material that holds together a bunch of grapes. For our intents and purposes it is disposable. The definitions given by reliable sources are ridiculous, and should not be included in this article, certainly not in their entirety. Sources define postmodern art and contemporary art as running almost concurrently and both running right up to the present point in time. They are both said to start at different points in time, but only slightly different points in time, and nether stretching back more than 50 years. (I think the postmodern period is said to begin in the 1970s, and the contemporary period is said to begin in the 1960s. Please correct me if I am wrong.) Of the two terms, postmodern art clearly carries the intellectual, art historical, art critical, connotation. My suggestion is to use the article "Postmodern art" to to tell the story according to the intellectual connective tissue that present day writers on art have come up with, and to leave the "Contemporary art" article free of it, except for a mention of postmodern art. The word contemporary merely means "occurring at the same time." Contemporary commonly means "present," as in contemporary furniture, a marketing term for a non-art item. A literal understanding of contemporary art is "art of our time," which translates into art being produced "now."
What I think is nonsensical is going into the whole art critical story in this article that is written about in the postmodern art article and other articles. It sounds like biblical tale after awhile: Duchamp begot Warhol, and so on. It gets repeated and the more it gets repeated the more "true" it becomes. That is unfortunate because the rote repetition of the tried and "true" stories about artworks deprives the artworks of the opportunity to simply stand on their own for what they are as artworks. Bus stop 13:03, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
The problem with taking the tack that Contemporary art is "the art of now"/"the art of our time" is that it isn't used that way. Art that is 30-40 years old is still described as Contemporary. People have to set aside their dictionaries and look at how the term is used by authoritative sources (i.e., critics & museums).
The point about Post-Modernism is a good one, but not all Contemporary Art (i.e., avant-garde art since the 1960's) is Post-Modern. It's somewhat a square and rectangle issue (i.e., all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares... and Post-Modern art is Contemporary, but not all Contemporary Art is Post-Modern). Simenzo 15:16, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
The terms are all meaningless. It is best to set aside one article as a repository for all the meaningless terms and leave another article free of meaningless terms. Bus stop 15:45, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
Hmm... I'm not really sure how to take that. Do you really think the term Contemporary Art has absolutely no meaning ? I suspect you really mean that it has a loose meaning (since it describes a continuing-to-develop art movement). I agree that the article on the term should acknowledge that, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to hone in an the its most authoritative usage.
Honestly, I think there is a bit of a "can't see the forest for the trees" issue here. Since we're in the midst of the Contemporary Art movement, it's a bit hard to step back and see what it is. But with a bit of art-historical perspective, I think we can define by expecting this art movement to behave like all the ones have to-date.
Look at it this way, if this were the 1950s we could be having the exact same disagreement about the definition of Modern Art. One person could be saying, "Hey, it's modern art--i.e., art of today... the art of now! Someday Picasso will no longer be considered Modern." And the other might say, "No, you're confusing the dictionary definition of "modern" with the art usage of Modern. Modern Art is the art since 1900. Some day we'll be on to the next art movement." With the perspective of time, it's clear that the second definition is the correct one. The same goes of Contemporary Art--it is the art since Modern. At some point in time, Contemporary Art will be an old art movement just like Modern Art is.
To touch back on Post-Modern. It's tempting to say that all art since Modern is Post-Modern, but that isn't really accurate (in the same way that all art since Impressionism isn't Post-Impressionism). Post-Modern is characterized by appropriation and irony and is encompassed by Contemporary Art. Simenzo 15:58, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
Incidentally, I think there's a very good argument to be made for Contemporary Art being the art of "Post-World-War-II" (as opposed to Contemporary Art being the Art since Modernism, which is the definition I prefer). The Post-War definition is how many Contemporary Art museums define their collections. However, we really do need to come to a consensus against the idea that Contemporary Art is a moving window and that at some point art that is considered Contemporary today, will no longer be Contemporary. (Again, the example of Modernism points against that, plus the fact that no artist has yet been stripped of his/her Contemporary label due to the passing of time). Simenzo 16:31, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
So far, agreement that the article shouldn't become another postmodern art article, although postmodern art can be referred to. Less agreement on whether or not the article should adopt a historical description of art since whenever. A few other points have emerged:
1)There is some dispute about whether sourced statements are appropriate. My view is that we should have more of these rather than less!
2)That the article should be about art not art criticism. I agree with the sentiment, but recourse to art criticism is neccessary to avoid original research.
3)There is debate about whether or not contemporary art is ever changing, within a 'shifting temporal window' (nice phrase). If an authorative source can be found then this view should be expressed in the article.
4)The institutions of contemporary art (museums, critics etc) have been mentioned, as they have elsewhere on the talk page. Perhaps this can be developed in the article.--Ethicoaestheticist 18:35, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
Description is one thing. Interpretation is another thing. The more you describe individual works of art, or small numbers of works of art, without overly engaging in interpretation, and with an attempt at being objective in your description, the more light you shed on the meaning of the artworks being covered in your commentary. On the other hand, the more interpretation you do, and the broader the swath of art production that you attempt to generalize about, the more you are engaging in story telling of a fictional nature. Bus stop 19:03, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
I wonder what Simenzo means in saying that, "we're in the midst of the Contemporary Art movement"? Is Contemporary art a movement? And if so, have the characteristics of "Contemporary art" been articulated anywhere? I think Simenzo has said that Contemporary art is done in a "non-historical style." What is a "non-historical style"?
Simenzo says that the term Contemporary art "has never had a shifting temporal window," but of course it has had a "shifting temporal window." Simenzo says the term came into usage in the 1970s. If that is so then it seems to me the window in which Contemporary art is found has moved to include each new year.
I disagree with Ethicoaestheticist's assertion that, "recourse to art criticism is necessary to avoid original research." In point of fact the presently included table[3] indicating art movements by decade since 1960 is not original research. I would argue that the table is not even necessary to this article. But it could easily be sourced. All the art movements link to Wikipedia articles, which are sourced.
Art criticism doesn't make art. Art criticism creates the associative language with which we refer to artworks. The term "Contemporary art" doesn't shed light on anything, if we understand it as an art critical term. That is why it is pointless for the editors of this article to use it that way.
It also borders on lunacy to think that there is any common denominator for artwork produced over several decades. The same applies to terms like "Postmodern art" and even "Modern art." I don't argue against the use of those two terms because their use is well established. (Also, the use of the term "Modern art" is separated from the present time by several decades. "Postmodern" and "Contemporary," by contrast, run right up until today.) But "Contemporary art" is not a term with strong art critical connotations. Postmodern art is claimed to have some unifying qualities. The qualities of "irony" and "appropriation" are often mentioned. While I think that is ridiculous and simplistic, we don't even see the assertion that Contemporary art is characterized by any common qualities, but of course correct me if I am wrong about that. Therefore I don't see the justification for filling this article on Contemporary art with all the often repeated tales about the supposed history of recent art. Bus stop 13:41, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
Bus Stop, what do you think about simply accepting the definition of Contemporary Art that is used implicitly by most Contemporary Art Museums (i.e., art since WWII). I agree it isn't the perfect definition (though my issues with it are different from yours), but it seems the most authoritative source available.
My non-historical style caveat for Contemporary Art is really in response to the idea that Contemporary art is art that has been recently created. Probably most of the art created in the last year is not Contemporary, but rather done in some older style (e.g., cubism, sublime abstraction, old masterly, etc.).
As far as artists from the '70s losing their Contemporary Art status, can you point to an example? I certainly know of no artist that was removed from a Contemporary Art Museum's collection for being out-of-date.
I definitely do think that Contemporary Art is an umbrella movement in much the same way that Modern Art is. It's no harder to give unifying qualities for Contemporary Art than it is for Modern Art (ok, maybe it's a bit harder, but Contemporary Art on-going so it is natural that it can't be wrapped up neatly). Yes, Contemporary Art covers a broad spectrum of smaller art movements, but so does Modern Art (cubism, futurism, minimalism, abstract expressionism, dadaism, etc.). Simenzo 20:28, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
It is bad enough that we have the word postmodern. Do we need an almost twin brother for that almost meaningless word? I think you do make one good point: A sentence should be in the article indicating that museums often called Museum of Contemporary Art, or some variation on that name, generally describe their collections as derived from the period from World War Two to the present. That terminology indicates to the public something about the type of art to be found in that museum. That terminology refers to a period of time. Bus stop 13:37, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Hmm... I don't really see Contemporary Art and Post-Modern Art being synonymous. I think it's easy to conflate them since Post-Modernism was so prevalent for a decade or so, but there are many, many artists who would describe themselves as Contemporary but not Post-Modern. And I don't think they are making an arbitrary distinction--it's pretty well accepted that Post-Modern Art is one of irony & appropriation--there's plenty of Contemporary Art that doesn't incorporate either. I certainly do not describe myself as Post-Modern--do you, Bus Stop?
You are referring to contemporary art. What qualities would you say are found in contemporary art? Bus stop 14:06, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Well, the main thrust of my argument is that we should be defining it as it is used by authoritative sources (e.g., art museums and art historians... and to a lesser extent art critics). I actually think that a list of characteristics of Contemporary Art is less important and less desirable, since it will necessarily be flawed given that it is a broad, umbrella movement.
Most importantly I'd say that it's main characteristic is art that is done in an "avant-garde" style and is either after Modernism or after WWII (depending on the source of the definition). In general, but not necessarily, Contemporary Art skews towards having conceptual underpinnings and intentionality. I would follow up with a list/timeline of the movements which are covered by the large umbrella: Pop Art, Earthworks, Performance Art, Installation Art, Post-Modernism, etc.
Before going and shooting holes in those ideas :) Bus Stop, perhaps we can circle back and address the main thrust of your counter-argument... that there have been artists that were characterized as Contemporary and, due to the passing of time, lost that label. Can you point to any 3rd party authoritative examples of such a thing happening? If not, I suggest that it might be more of a personal, rather than encyclopedic, definition that you're working from.
I didn't say any artist lost the label of contemporary due to the passing of time. In fact I don't think I even made the reference to the artist; I only made reference to the artwork. But correct me if I am wrong. I haven't reread my comments. But if you think I have made reference to artists, please paste that so I can see where I said that.
What is "intentionality?" I'm unfamiliar with the term relating to visual art.
As far as how to define it, we can define it two ways. We can say that contemporary art refers to art being produced at this present point in time. And we can say that museums of contemporary art carry art dating as far back as World War Two. Presenting those two uses for the term (contemporary art) should take only a few sentences.
As far as your suggestion of avant-garde, I think that is getting at the same idea that I was trying to convey with my use of the term "serious" in relation to art. Bus stop 15:30, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Oops, you're right... you said that Contemporary Art has, since the '70s, included each new year. We're in agreement on that. So if we agree that to-date no artist has been stripped of a Contemporary Art designation, even though the art is 40-ish years old, why not give up the idea that Contemporary Art equates to "art being produced at the present point in time"?
I'm not sure intentionality is used widely, but I use it to describe art that has some artistic momentum beyond simply replicating a scene realistically or creating something with no concerns beyond the aesthetic. Simenzo 16:24, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

(unindent) We are not talking about artists. We are talking about art.

If you want to mention that museums commonly name themselves "Museum of Contemporary Art" and include collections spanning from the end of World War Two up to the present then please do so. I agree with you that that usage approximates a definition of contemporary art as that which spans 40 years.

But contemporary also means now. The most contemporary art is that which was produced today. Have I been too wordy in asserting that in the article?

Even accepting the definition concerning a definition of art spanning 40 years, I see no reason for going into detail of what transpired during those 40 years. As I see it, it merely means 40 years.

What I am saying is that if you prefer to use the phrase "contemporary art" instead of the phrase "past 40 years," go ahead. But I don't think the phrase "contemporary art" conveys any more information than the phrase "the art of the past 40 years." What is the difference between those 2 phrases?

No qualities are conveyed by the phrase "contemporary art," so why use it? You've said that contemporary art tends to contain art with the qualities of "conceptual underpinnings" and "intentionality." But is that really true? Or significant? Do we really understand the art of the past 40 years as containing the qualities of "conceptual underpinnings" and "intentionality?" I think that is a simplification and a generalization that provides more disinformation than information. Bus stop 18:22, 11 July 2007 (UTC)