Любителям искусства

What is the difference between modern and contemporary?

Credit: Guggenheim Museum

Surprisingly, the art that we now classify into different periods, such as Antiquity or the Renaissance, was once considered contemporary art during its specific time period.
Modernism, or modern art, emerged in the second half of the 19th century and transitioned to the next era in the 1960s and 1970s. The beginning of the modern art era is often traced back to the year 1863 and the infamous «Salon des Refusés» (Salon of the Rejected) exhibition, which showcased artworks that were not accepted for the official annual exhibition of the French Academy of Fine Arts. This exhibition featured Edouard Manet's scandalous work «Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe» (Luncheon on the Grass), which became a manifesto for the new artistic movement. Manet's and his colleagues' works created a sensation among the Parisian public, with their open nudity and rejection of traditional brushwork techniques, marking a true revolution.

The 1863 exhibition played a significant role in the subsequent history of art. It undermined the authority of the French Academy and the entire academic painting school, leading to the emergence of art movements such as Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Futurism, and more.

The era of modern art was a time of experimentation and new ideas. It gave us artists such as Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte, Edvard Munch, Wassily Kandinsky, Mark Rothko, Alberto Giacometti, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, and others. But this period naturally came to its logical conclusion, making way for what we now call contemporary art or art of the present time.

Contemporary art is the art of our days, created by our contemporaries, and is an artistic reflection of the modern reality. Chronologically, contemporary art began in the 1960s and 1970s and continues to this day. In Russia and the post-Soviet space, the term contemporary art is also known as actual art. Movements in contemporary art include minimalism, land art, photorealism, kinetic art, performance art, systems art, art feminism, and many others. The main characteristic of contemporary art is the reflection of current reality through various artistic methods. A significant portion of contemporary works is created using digital methods, computer graphics, and other modern technologies.

One can also highlight the socio-cultural component, which manifests in the difference in goals and tasks that artists working in the styles of modern art and contemporary art set for themselves. For example, in modern art, the emphasis was on artistic freedom, while in contemporary art, the focus is on the social and cultural aspects of the modern world.

The stylistic differences between modern and contemporary art

One of the key elements that has become a distinguishing feature of contemporary art is the use of combined art formats. Thanks to the use of new technologies, the synthesis of various artistic means has become possible, allowing for more vivid effects for the viewer.

For example, in their work, artists employ cutting-edge technologies to create voluminous installations and interactive pieces. Another characteristic of contemporary art is the wide use of abstraction and unconventional art forms. In contrast to modern art, which focused on formal aspects, geometric shapes, and symmetry, contemporary art utilizes unconventional forms and color schemes.

Furthermore, restrictions on materials in contemporary art are almost completely eliminated. The use of various materials and technologies – from metal and glass to digital technologies – has led to the emergence of new art forms. It is also worth noting the use of the principle ofso-called recycling – recycling methods.

The diversity of possibilities provided by modern technologies has become an inexhaustible source of inspiration for artists. This is crucial because in the modern world, changes happen very quickly, and it is only through the development and use of cutting-edge technologies that one can stay at the forefront and remain understandable and relatable to the viewer.

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