How to Fake it: What to say about Contemporary Art

In our How to Fake it series, we seek to simplify art topics into bite-sized nuggets to enable you with the tools to be an art conversationalist.

For this ‘How to Fake it’, we explore the world of Contemporary Art and how people tend to confuse it with Modern Art.

Previously, we talked about how Modern and Contemporary Art are easy to confuse. This could be explained by a vast period of overlapping as Modern Art transitioned to Contemporary Art. As we have given you the basics on what Modern Art is, let’s dive in and give you some tips on what to say when talking about Contemporary Art:


What is Contemporary Art?

Contemporary Art refers to work of arts made since the aftermath of World War II and is used to describe the works of artists still living and creating art works. The term Contemporary Art is loosely used to refer to art of the present day and of the relatively recent past, of an innovatory or avant-garde nature. Contemporary Art took the main ingredients of Modern Art into greater heights by focusing on mirroring contemporary culture and society. The work of contemporary artists is a dynamic combination of materials, mediums, methods, concepts, and subjects that challenge traditional boundaries and defy easy definitions. Diverse and eclectic, Contemporary Art is distinguished by the very lack of a uniform organizing principle, ideology, or –ism.

Historically, the term “Contemporary” can be traced back to the beginnings of Modernism but as a special type of art, and not one to describe a period in art. One of the earliest times the term “Contemporary” was used was in 1910, when art critic Roger Fry founded the Contemporary Art Society in London. In the aftermath of World War II, the term started to be used to define the art movement, which critics point to as the era where ‘Modern Art’ ceased being ‘Contemporary’ enough to cater to the taste of the younger art enthusiasts.


Characteristics of Contemporary Art

The Contemporary Art of today is known to produce more experimental works and tackles a wider variety of social, economic and political issues. It made art to reflect the current issues that hound our world today, such as racism, globalization, third-world country oppression, feminism among many others.

Yue Minjun, Fighting (2009-2010), Lithography, 120 x 80 cm Source:

Yue Minjun
Fighting (2009-2010)
120 x 80 cm

Eugene Soh, Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of Singapore (2014), Plexiglass, 120 x 80 cm Source:

Eugene Soh
Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of Singapore (2014)
120 x 80 cm

Guided by the emerging mediums such as art salons, video art, object design, graphical arts and social media, Contemporary Art has broken down walls and looks headed to a limitless future.


What the Future of Art will be?

With new technologies; art has become available and accessible to a larger audiences and artists. “Barbican’s Rain Room: it’s raining, but you won’t get wet” is a classic example how contemporary artists experimenting with art with new mediums. Barbican’s Rain Room consists of injection moulded tiles, solenoid valves, pressure regulators, 3D tracking cameras, wooden frames, steel beams, a hydraulic management system, and a grated floor. The system is controlled by custom software.



Barbican’s Rain Room: it’s raining, but you won’t get wet (2012)
Random International: Rain Room
Barbican – The Curve, London
London (UK), October 9, 2012

Social media further increases access to photography, video, graphic arts and art installations, attracting scores of trash art but those with amazing art quality and messages will still find a way to survive. The Contemporary Art is alive than ever before and it’s time to crawl out of the curatorial jumble to better judgement and art appreciation of works.

Check out the contemporary works we have on our site, and see if you can spot the characteristics of the Contemporary Art that we have mentioned above!


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