Contemporary Art: A Brief Introduction

DSCN6226The term contemporary art generally has been used to designate the art and architecture made during the twentieth century. The questioning of the artistic principles that began in the last decades of the nineteenth century had a decisive influence on the formation of self-critical spirit of twentieth century. This aesthetic revolution does not depend on the excise of a generation of artists, as these only serve to translate the intellectual and social concepts of a historical moment. Therefore, it required the philosophical, scientific and political changes for a different form of art to face reality.

At the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, Europe was in a situation characterized by social instability, economic and political rivalry between nations, leading to World War I. However, during the same period, there were some fruitful productivity in science and intellectual. Art became a big hit and began to emerge in multiple streams and trends. Not all trends occur linearly over time, but many were coeval and had relationships with each other. Vanguards cannot be understood trying to establish a chronological order, until World War II, which led to the first avant-garde art and historical avant-garde, while after the war the second avant-garde and postmodernism appear.

Origin of Contemporary Art

The roots of contemporary art are found at the end of the nineteenth century. The Impressionism and Post-Impressionism constitute a starting point for the currents of the twentieth century. Within the historical vanguards, the most prominent were Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, Neo, Dadaism and Surrealism. All have a number of common elements in their ideology, but not stylistic. There is a group consciousness within each and reflection in their respective manifestos. They deny the past and looked for a new expressive language on the basis of different view of reality, which no longer imitate and interpret. The desire for novelty leads them to experiment with colors, forms and compositions.

Emergence of Fauvism

The Fauvism replaced naturalistic palette colors used by the Impressionists for a strong color and a drawing stroke to create a very strong expressive emphasis. George Braque and Henri Matisse were among its members.

The expressionists assessed the content using emotional attitudes and gave greater emphasis on self-expression. The composition becomes torn and the most violent color with symbolic content. The first expressionist group founded in Germany and became known as Die Brücke (The Bridge). The group had Emil Nolde, Karl Schmidt-Rottluft, Ernest Kirchner and Erich Heckel. At the end of 1910, it was formed Der Blaue Reiter art (The Blue Rider), created by Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Mare and El Lissitzky.

Concept of Cubism

The Cubism emphasizes the flat surface and the flatness of the canvas and proposes a lifestyle based on the multiplicity of perspective views. In its first phase called analytic cubism, artists sought decomposition of three-dimensional forms in multiple geometric elements from the fragmentation of cubic elements and flat projections. In the second phase, it’s called synthetic cubism: experiences developed with collage. Materials such as wood, paper newsprint, photographs or drawings combined with pigments in the composition of the picture. The works were more decorative and figurative evocations more explicit.

Cubism art movement

Pablo Picasso, Robert Delaunay, Juan Gris and Frantisek Kupka are the leading exponents of pictorial cubism along with Pablo Gargallo and Julio González of Cubist sculpture from Spain.

The artists of Futurism from Italy, especially Gini Severini, Giacomo Balla, Carlo Carra and Humberto Boccini worked a style that has been called dynamic cubism because they were interested in the representation of movement and speed through rhythmic repetition of lines and images.

Cubism also influenced the emergence of non-representational or abstract art. The Swiss-German artist Paul Klee produced some abstract watercolors. Russian artists Maliévich, Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin, evolved into a geometrically constructed abstract art.

Neo Art Movement

In parallel with Russia, in the Netherlands a movement called Neo occurred. Its principles are reported through the De Stijl magazine, led by Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian. The Mondrian’s composition is a method of using straight lines defining rectangles of primary colors. Its goal is to highlight the two-dimensionality of the canvas surface to self-express based on the purity of ideal art and stripped according to the universal laws of balance.

Movement of Dadaism

The Dada movement represents the antithesis of the rationalism of Mondrian and other theorists of abstraction. They conformed the system of bourgeois values, chose a meaningless word given to designate their protest activity and unsightly works. Marcel Duchamp, best known artist, was the inventor of ready-made, which is the consideration of everyday objects as works of art, usually sculptures. The most famous of these was the famous urinal titled Fountain.



The Surrealists tried to go beyond the visible reality asserting the superiority of the subconscious and the importance of dreams in artistic creation. They worked with a figurative style Salvador Dalí, Van Ray, René Magritte and Max Ernst, while the abstract power belonged to André Masson, Joan Miro, Yves Tanguy and Jean Arp.

Surrealism art

After World War II come second vanguards. The consumer society and capitalism develop, shooting and collecting art becomes an object of speculation. Surge trends against these aspects, irony and humor appear in art movements such as Pop, while on the other hand waste materials of the consumer society intensified Povera Art or New French Realism. The Minimal and Conceptual Art created with the aim of intellectualizing art and get directly to the intellect of the viewer and the Abstract Expressionism of using it as a means to externalize the feelings of the artist.



Leave a Reply

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons