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JB Hendrix

May 7, 2014
Webster 1
Sometimes people view contemporary art and think to
themselves, a five-year-old could paint that! Others
say that anything that causes a viewer to think or react
(even in anger) is art. What is your definition of art?
Choose a painting that you think could challenge some
viewers and develop an argument for why it is, indeed,

Art is no longer for the consumer. Contemporary art focuses on modern
issues in society that the artist choses and creates a work based around that
idea. Modern art is no longer about clear images. Artists would rather use
symbolism to express how they are feeling. Yet, society believes that the art
industry has just become lazy. Society underappreciates modern artists and
their work because they are accustomed to the classical styles of the
painters from the Renaissance Period. However, the contemporary style is
more of an art form than the classical style because it allows the artist more
control of the piece and the choice of how they convey it.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of art is
something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or
that expresses important ideas or feelings. (1) This means that anything
creatively created that results emotions in people is qualified as art.
Leading up to the 20th century, art has always been a clear image that was
easy to understand and is classically beautiful, much like the pieces done by
Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci. Starting around the 18th century, modern
artists have adopted the style of expressionism and slowly began to back
away from the classical style until a new art form was created. Artists used
symbolism to express their views of the world and any political, social, or
economic issues. (2)
Another factor in the sudden change of realism to symbolism and
expressionism was the change artists made from being hired to do a piece to
becoming self-directed. (2) Prior to the 18th century, artists were appointed
jobs by wealthy customers or institutions such as the church and made grand
pieces designed to tell stories from mythology or the bible and were often
designed to instruct the viewer. During the Industrial Revolution, artists
made the switch from storytelling to creating pieces based off of ideas,
people, or places.
Art continued to evolve through the 19th and 20th centuries into what is
now known as contemporary art. Much like the art revolution in the 19th
century, contemporary artists are now mainly incorporating symbolism and
expressionism into their pieces. An example of contemporary art would be
graffiti. Like all art, it is considered very controversial; liked by some and
disliked by others. Graffiti often has political or social messages conveyed
through symbols and expressions, such as in countries in Latin America
whose governments use censorship. Artists use many different symbols to

JB Hendrix
May 7, 2014
Webster 1

get their message to people but not taken down by the government.
Altermodern art is the new up and coming art form where artists
contextualize art in todays society as a reaction against consumerism and
standardization. (3)
The piece of art entitled Bleu, Blanc et Juane painted by Piet
Mondrian is nothing special. In fact, all it is are white, blue, and yellow
squares. Piet believed that by stripping down painting to its essentials,
rectangles with black lines on a white plane, he could recreate a perfect
nature where vertical lines represent masculinity while the horizontal lines
convey femininity. (4) Where the untrained eye only sees different colored
boxes, Piet created a simplistic expression of what he believes nature at its
simplest form would appear.
As art evolves in a society that doesnt appreciate change from
classical to modernism, people have begun to underappreciate modern art.
Artists now rely on expression and symbols to display a message or an idea
to a wide variety of viewers. Modern art is actually a step up from classical
art because of the artists ability to paint what they want as opposed to
being limited by the commands of a customer. More and more freedom has
been granted to artists throughout the centuries, slowly warping and
inventing new art forms. Even though contemporary art is harder to
understand than classical art, it does not make it any less impressive. Art has
changed and will continue to change as time moves on and paints new
opportunities for society.
1. "Art." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, Web. 04 May 2014.
2. "MoMA Learning." MoMA. Museum of Modern Art, Web. 06 May 2014.
3. "Contemporary Art Explained." ArtInteractive. Art Interactive Inc., Web.
06 May 2014.
4. "Modern & Contemporary Art." Denver Art Museum. Denver Art
Museum, Web. 06 May 2014.