When the topic of art comes up, there are always some pretty standard responses. There are those that bring up the time of the classical masters and the contemporary greats. There are those that bring up the latest filters and how to use your camera phone to get the angle just right—this is also art. Today, I wanted to talk about the core differences between classical and contemporary art.
I feel that this discussion is needed since these are the two that are often pit against each other. I believe that through a better understanding of both topics, there would be less vitriol thrown around. So without further ado, let’s get started:
By definition, contemporary art refers to any art that is made today. It is any art that was produced in the latter part of the 20th century. This is not to be confused with Modern art. Yes, I know, they can be quite confusing. However, it is all about the time period.
Modern art is any art that was made between 1860 to around 1970. Cotemporary art is what followed. Everything that you see after 1970 is considered to be contemporary art. Contemporary art is usually a culmination of global influences. As you may imagine, society is not longer as constricted as it was back then. There’s very little threat of war so people are free to come and go and as they please.
Of course, this exchange leads to influences that result in artists like Yayoi Kusama and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
When you say classical art, this does not actually refer to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and the people of his age. Classical artists are the likes of Nicolas Poussin, Laurent de la Hyre, Lola Mora, and Hohann Halbig.
Their works of art usually depict the ‘classical period’ of society. It is mostly western in its subjects and is very specific in the ways the colors are used. Classical art is often confused with different styles like Baroque. While they can be confused for each other they are actually quite different. Classical art is usually worth millions and even billions of dollars because the method in which they are created are often hard to replicate.
Art does not just belong to a certain period or era. Art is fluid and is something that is the physical representation of a person’s creativity. Of course the art that is produced now is completely different from the art that was produced centuries ago. Whenever there are debates about how classical art is so much better than contemporary art and how contemporary art is sacrilege to art in general, it’s a lot like being mad at classical artists for not drawing the way cavemen used to do it.
Yes, cave art is still art. So instead of pitting one against the other, it would be better to remember that art is progress. It will be future generations that will determine if the art we have now can stand up to the greats of the classical age.