How to Appreciate Contemporary Art

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Anaïs Nin, French author

Be it classical or contemporary art, it is often quickly agreed that our idea of beauty is subjective and ever-changing with time. As individuals, we are moulded by personal taste, experience and feelings. Therefore, it is key to keep an open mind when viewing art that is not necessarily considered “beautiful.”

Rather than critique, the goal is to understand the artwork and its context (such as historical background, motifs, etc) in order to derive useful meaning.

Often at the butt of jokes, there is an observed lack of understanding when viewing contemporary art.

A Quick Overview of Contemporary Art

Up until around the late 1950s, we have been preoccupied with the rational part of our belief system, focusing on logical reasoning and science.

Moving into current times, we begin to see our world with a more inclusive eye. Contemporary art reflects how we have grown to embrace subcultures, alternative narratives, innovatory ideas and sensational media. It encourages us to question what we know and believe.

Deriving Meaning From Contemporary Artworks

Many contemporary pieces reflect societal concerns pertaining to the identities of people, culturally, socio-economically and politically.

Whether they are everyday objects shockingly blown up in size (ie. Claes Oldenburg, Damien Hirst, etc) or art that emphasizes on consumerism (ie. Andy Warhol, Alex Gross, Wang Guangyi), contemporary art explores and respects diversity and differences. Through the abstract nature of contemporary pieces, artists can frame their contention, veiled through the protection that only art can offer.

Looking From The Outside In

For the traditional art lover, it can often be a challenge to warm up to contemporary art as it is wildly open-ended. There are no specific styles or media. It can be representational, abstract, pop, appropriated. It can be a performance, an installation, text-based and conceptual all at once.

As much as one may feel like an outsider looking in at exhibitions, it is essential not to dismiss contemporary art simply because they are works-in-progress, different and seemingly alienating.

In order to better appreciate and enjoy contemporary works, it is important to question more than to answer; allow space for multiple perspectives; look at relationships and see how the artworks can create interesting dialogues.

Contemporary artworks have the ability to breath life into the art industry and provoke discussions such as “Is this art?” and “What does this mean?”

As a reflection of today’s culture, it adds depth and value in our everyday lives.

To access inspirational artworks by rising contemporary artists of our time, speak to our experienced team at Art Works today.

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