12 Contemporary Art Styles

The art world is a complicated place, and you may have many questions about how to interpret art and what art types exist. When it comes to contemporary art, it is difficult to define since it encompasses such a wide range of themes, concepts, and subject matters. Art created by artists of modern society is contemporary art. It usually consists of paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations, performances, and video art.

Contemporary art is aesthetically appealing and inspiring. The specific art style of this artist can inspire viewers and enable them to understand the artist’s vision better. In contemporary art, the artist explores both identity and culture. Contemporary artists, who use a wide range of media to express themselves, strive to reflect the complex themes that are a significant part of today’s rapidly reshaping society.

Contemporary art can be challenging to understand for viewers. Occasionally, you may witness a painting composed of haphazard lines, shapes, and colors or see a sculpture made of steel pins. If you want to learn about the various contemporary art styles, recognize other works of art, and interpret the message and approach on the canvas, this article is for you. This article discusses the most popular contemporary art styles, which will help you determine the artwork more quickly. Take a look! 

What is Contemporary Art?

Art from the late 20th century and the early 21st century is considered contemporary art. This is generally understood to mean art produced after the Modernist movement. On the other hand, the term modern art does not apply to artwork produced during a specific period of time. In this genre of art, there is a distinctive style or approach that separates it from others.

Although this style of art includes a great deal of variety, it is difficult to describe. There are those who believe that modern art is primarily concerned with challenging the nature of the artwork. Furthermore, this style of art may also cause viewers to wonder what exactly defines art. Therefore, it may prove more challenging to describe precisely than any other style of art. Contemporary art has several major reasons why it is important to society, including the fact that it allows people to express themselves and provide social commentary.

Contemporary Art Styles

Abstract contemporary seamless pattern

Geometric Art

As its name indicates, geometric art takes cues from geometry and represents shapes, lines, angles, points, and other elements. A variety of geometric shapes are used in this contemporary art style to create complex shapes and objects, including circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles. There is a wide variety of geometric art designs.

Abstract Art

An abstract piece of art is created by combining geometric shapes, patterns, and unnatural formats. Landscapes and figures focus on this type of art, which symbolizes simplicity, spirituality, and purity. Colors, textures, lines, compositions, patterns, and processes are all part of abstract art. Since abstract art does not embrace representational work. It is called non-objective art or concrete art. More than a century has passed since abstract art first captured the viewer’s attention. Taking an open-minded, curious mindset and being willing to explore the artwork is crucial to understanding abstract art.

Figurative Art

By utilizing the human figure, figurative art depicts real-world issues. Through the use of illusionary characteristics, this art type aims to represent life realistically. It is also possible for this art style to combine with other forms of art such as minimalist, cubist, and abstract art in the context of contemporary art. These days, the use of figurative art to differentiate between abstract art and representational work is widespread. Over the centuries, figurative art has been utilized by prominent artists to portray intellectual concepts. The work of some artists was representational, while the work of others attempted to demonstrate cultural values through sculpture, painting, and portraiture.

Minimalist Art

A minimalist work of art uses numerous geometric shapes, such as the square and rectangle, to form an abstract work of art. Art of this type depicts reality without any imitation, which is the main purpose of using this type of art. You can see landscapes, people, emotions, experiences, and feelings of the real world in it. A minimalist painting illustrates the magnificence of simplicity, truth, and harmony in a highly purified form.

Typography Art

An example of typography is the arrangement of text and appropriate use of typefaces using existing and contemporary typefaces. The letters of an alphabet function to express certain techniques, feelings, and brand identities. In the print and web design industry, typography art is a prominent aspect.

Still Life Art

In Western art, still life paintings and dead sculptures are considered still life art. A natural or human-made object can be included in this type of artwork, including vegetables, fruits,  games,  food, etc. In contemporary art, still life art depicts the joy of material possessions and reminds viewers of humanity’s brevity.

Pop Art

In reaction to commercial culture, mass media, and consumerism, pop art emerged as one of the most famous artistic movements of all time. To convey their message, artists use everyday objects, such as bottles cans, newspaper comic strips, and road signs. You are allowed to use names, logos, and pictures of celebrities in your artwork. There is no limit to the inspiration that might come your way. Because pop art exhibits the unique characteristics of many iconic movements, viewers can easily recognize it. Most pop art employs vibrant colors. To convey the message, artists can use humor and irony. Several pop artists use printmaking to manufacture large quantities of images in bulk. Various materials and media are used by contemporary artists to represent their work.

Sculpture Art

The four basic steps in creating sculpture are carving, casting, modeling, and constructing. The carving technique involves cutting solid materials like wood or stone to create a shape. Artists pour liquid material into a mold during casting. During the modeling phase, artists construct shapes using soft materials, such as clay or wax. To construct and assemble sculptures, you need to bend, fold, stitch, weld, weave, and use other techniques. The techniques can be applied to a variety of materials and objects to produce sculptures.

Surrealist Art

In Europe, between World War I and II, surrealism flourished as a philosophical and artistic movement. Irrational and subconscious concepts are at the core of surrealist art. To depict their internalized thoughts, surrealist artists experiment with a variety of languages and objects. They are often known for their incredible, energetic graphics.

Street Art

With the rise of graffiti in the 1980s, street art gained prominence as one of the most recent contemporary art movements. Graffiti, murals, installations, stencils, and stickers that adorn public spaces are examples of street art. Banksy and Shepard Fairey are prominent street artists from the 1980s and today.

Installation Art

The immersive nature of installation art is similar to that of performance art. A three-dimensional installation changes the perception of the space around it and the surrounding environment. They’re often site-specific and large-scale, allowing artists to create a customized, interactive environment in any space. Yayoi Kusama, Dale Chihuly, and Bruce Munro are among the most well-known installation artists.

Conceptual Art

The concept of conceptual art relies on the idea that a work of art is a theme rather than a physical object. As such, it is the ‘idea’ that constitutes a work that is the most essential component, and the resulting product, assuming it exists at all, is not considered an artifact but rather a document. Dada and Marcel Duchamp were the forebearers of Conceptualism, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that it became a name and a recognizable movement. Due to its ability to deliver ideas quite powerfully, conceptual art has served as a popular medium for social commentary.

Famous Contemporary Arts Examples

1. Orange, Red, Yellow by Mark Rothko, 1961

Credit: Mark Rothko

During its 2012 auction, Orange, Red, Yellow, broke records. Mark Rothko has received both praise and criticism for his geometric abstraction and vibrant colors. He produced many large-scale works. In Rothko’s opinion, his art should reflect intimacy and humanity. To fully experience the intimacy and transcendence between his work and the audience, he recommended that the spectator stand 60 feet away from the artwork.

2. Balloon Dogs by Jeff Koons, 1994

contemporary art styles
Credit: Jeff Koons

Artist Jeff Koons is known as one of the most controversial figures in the art world. As far as the work’s deeper meaning is concerned, he has admitted there is none beyond aesthetics. In addition, he uses a workshop to create his pieces, which means he doesn’t create them himself. Many of his works, such as his metallic Balloon dogs, pose legitimate doubts as to whether or not they qualify as art. They proved to be his most recognizable contemporary artworks.

3. Three Studies of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon, 1969

contemporary art styles
Credit: Francis Bacon

In 2013, the British artist sold this triptych for the most money. It represents Lucian Freud, who was both friend and rival to the artist. The importance of not dividing the three studies has been emphasized by Francis Bacon for a long time. The 3 canvases have often changed ownership over the years, so this hasn’t always been possible.

4. Remembering by Ai Weiwei, 2009

contemporary art styles
Credit: Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei created this impressive piece as a tribute to the children who were victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Schools were torn down by this natural disaster, which was particularly devastating. Many children died because of these poor constructions. This large-scale project includes 9,000 backpacks for students. “She lived happily for seven years in this world”, can be read in the Chinese characters. The following quote describes the pain of a grieving mother about losing her child.

5. Angel of the North by Antony Gormley, 1998

contemporary art styles examples
Credit: Antony Gormley

The anthropomorphic statues of Anthony Gormley are well known. Gormley often casts his own bodies for the statues. One of this artist’s most famous works is Angel of the North. You can find it in Gateshead, England. The project cost approximately £800,000 to build, and it was finished over four years. There is an apparent hug between the wings. The sculpture also aims to represent progress through the ages.

6. Ceiling of Paris Opéra Garnier by Marc Chagall, 1964

contemporary art styles
Credit: Marc Chagall

One of the most famous pieces by Chagall is the ceiling of the Paris Opera Garnier. When it was first inaugurated in 1964, the ceiling was met with significant controversy. Several panels included in the ceiling were assembled while military guards stood guard over the assembly. Throughout history, the use of famous composers and artists reinforces Chagall’s status as “one of the greatest painters of our time.”.

7. Girl with Balloon by Banksy, 2002

contemporary art styles
Credit: Banksy

Waterloo Bridge is one of the first pieces ever painted by this iconic street artist, though it has changed since then. We have done this countless times to support numerous political campaigns, including the Syrian refugee crisis in 2014. In 2018, during Sotheby’s auction, a frame containing Banksy’s work spontaneously shrank after a device he put in it shredding the work. It was retitled Love is in the Bin after being shredded. It was decided that the print would be sold to the buyer who purchased it for a record price.

8. Infinity Mirror Room by Yayoi Kusama, 1965

contemporary art styles
Credit: Yayoi Kusama

One of the most illustrious artists of our time is the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Through motifs and repetition, her psychedelic and hallucinatory work employ the idea of infinity. With Infinity Mirror Room, a viewer/participant can become immersed in the sense of infinity and possibilities. In her own words, Kusama describes her life as “like a pea lost in the sea of peas.”

9. Maman by Louise Bourgeois, 1990

contemporary art styles
Credit: Louise Bourgeois

In a 30 meter-high spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, Maman stands at the height of 30 meters. The piece has taken shape in a variety of ways using varying materials. It pays tribute to Bourgeois’ mother, who passed away when she was just 21. It was built for an exhibition at the Tate Modern.

10. Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol, 1962

contemporary art styles
Credit: Andy Warhol

Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol are among the most famous contemporary works of art. An illustration of American culture’s consumerist culture and mass media, this piece symbolizes Pop Art. Furthermore, the work of Warhol is characterized by his signature style. The artist critiques consumer culture and its interminable production and consumption cycle by reiterating the item he represents.

Final Words

Contemporary artists often examine their own identities or cultures or point out the ills of society and institutions through their various kinds of contemporary art styles. Many of the questions they ask are difficult or thought-provoking, but there is rarely an easy answer to them. The best ways to approach contemporary artwork are curiosity, an open mind, and a commitment to dialogue and debate.

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