When it comes to defining contemporary art, it is not very easy to determine the exact year it started because there is some overlap with modern art. To be precise, 1960’s are the period in which both modern and contemporary art exist. Most people would agree that the period of contemporary art is from 1970 until present.
A crucial shift in the world of art happened after the Second World War when New York became the new center of art. Up to that point Paris was the center but new tendencies brought many changes. One of the most important changes was that the artists divided into Formalists and Anti-Formalists. Formalism is focused on traditional achievements in visual art whereas Anti-Formalism delivered some new forms that include videos, installations and performance. Various styles have emerged in contemporary art period.
Conceptualism is guided by the main idea that art is not a material object but a concept, hence the name. Conceptualism originates from Dada and Marcel Duchamp, but it became recognized as an art movement in 1960’s. This kind of art is very powerful in delivering ideas and because of that it has often been used as social or political commentary. Conceptualism gives an art experience that is more interactive. Some of the most important artists of Conceptualism are Joseph Beuys, Sol LeWitt, Eva Hesse and Joseph Kosuth.
Another movement was inspired by Conceptualism and it is Performance Art. This kind of art is characterized by the idea that it is live and the artist is there to communicate with the audience directly. The most important thing about Performance is that it must have an impact on the audience and it is usually something shocking. Many different artists have accepted this form of expression and today it relies on technology as many artists use all kinds of computer equipment in their performance. Some of the most influential people in Performance art are Yves Klein, Joseph Beuys, David Mura, Marina Abramovic and many others.
Installation is the special form of art that is made of various components and it takes up the entire space. This is a kind of three dimensional arts. It can be exhibited in art galleries and museums but also private spaces. The materials used here are various and practically anything or nothing can be used in installation. When we say nothing we have in mind the famous Yves Klein’s installation from 1958 called The Void. This installation was actually an empty room. The most influential artists in this field are Mario Merz, Richard Wilson, Rachel Whitread, Allan McCollum and so on.
Minimalism has had the greatest influence on painting, sculpture and architecture. As the name implies the main characteristic of this movement is simplicity of form, no expressive content and presenting objects in geometric form. Most famous artists of minimalism are Kenneth Martin, Carl Andre, Robert Morris, Frank Stella, Don Judd and some others.