Some Trends in Contemporary Art to Keep an Eye On

From the body of a shark floating in formaldehyde, phosphorescent rabbits, an embalmed horse hanging from the ceiling, a huge figure of a puppy covered with flowers, piles of plastic cups or lollipops, or a disheveled bed, modern art is becoming bolder when it comes to reinventing itself. Artworks such as those mentioned, confused and amazed an audience that during the last decades have attended various artistic events, especially visitors who do so with the idea of ​​appreciating plastic art such as painting, sculpture, drawing and engraving.

Given the new forms of expression, the most recurrent question has been whether such works, often immaterial, can be considered art. But what is art? This question has tormented for centuries critics and artists alike, yet there is no concrete answer.

The truth is that in our time art has become more transgressive while intermingling with everyday life, the most critical spectators, in turn, will ask if innovations are proof of the renovating and subversive role of the artist or result of the demands of a market eager for novelties and new artworks in which to invest. Similar questions have been asked repeatedly, and the answers points, with a high degree of consensus, to the fact that the validation of a work of art as an artistic object depends entirely on the context.

Art and Technology

Today, art includes expressions such as performance, video art, and the increasingly widespread use of new technologies such as computer programs, laser techniques and experiments with virtual reality; also the incorporation of digital photography, and the use of non-traditional materials such as living plants, plastics, resins and glass in large formats. On the question of what art is already a well-known reference is the artist Marcel Duchamp, who sent the jury of an art Salon a urinal, a work he called “Fountain” (1917), which made him a precursor of the widespread idea that the artist decides what art is, and presents it as such. Today he’s recognized for his great influence in the Dadaist movement since he elevated everyday objects to the category of art, a trend that continues to this day.

However, the panorama is still complex since evolutionism and formalism, along with other theories, were questioned with the emergence of the movements that would make up the so-called postmodernism.

Paradigm Shift

Since then there has been a change of paradigm: from the autonomy of modernist art to a type of art influenced by a series of social, political and cultural phenomena, in which the figure of the artist occupies a central place, the works now refer to experiences and personal positions.

Added to this is the need to abandon definitively the reductionist habit of the history of art, it is a futile exercise to try to classify a great variety of works into categories and movements. Which is especially difficult in the case of contemporary artists, who work in different areas simultaneously, so they could be pigeonholed in several of the pre-established categories, although many who pursue their work is to escape the conformism that labels represent.