can be defined variously as art
produced at this present point in time or art produced since
World War II
. The definition of the
word contemporary would support the first view, but museums of
contemporary art commonly define their collections as consisting of
art produced since World War II.
The institutions of contemporary art
Contemporary art is exhibited by commercial contemporary art galleries
collectors, corporations, publicly funded arts organizations,
contemporary art museums
by artists themselves in artist-run
. Contemporary artists are supported by grants, awards
and prizes as well as by direct sales of their work.
There are close relationships between publicly funded contemporary
art organisations and the commercial sector. For instance, in
Britain a handful of dealers represent the artists featured in
leading publicly funded contemporary art museums.
Individual collectors can wield considerable influence. Charles Saatchi
has dominated the
contemporary art market in Britain since the 1980s; the subtitle of
the 1999 book Young British Artists: The Saatchi Decade
uses of the name of the private collector to define an entire
decade of contemporary art production.
Corporations have attempted to integrate themselves into the
contemporary art world: exhibiting contemporary art within their
premises, organising and sponsoring contemporary art awards and
building up extensive collections of corporate
The institutions of art have been criticised for regulating what is
designated as contemporary art. Outsider
, for instance, is literally contemporary art, in that it is
produced in the present day. However, it is not considered so
because the artists are self-taught and are assumed to be working
outside of an art historical context. Craft activities, such as
textile design, are also excluded from the realm of contemporary
art, despite large audiences for exhibitions. Attention is drawn to
the way that craft objects must subscribe to particular values in
order to be admitted. "A ceramic object that is intended as a
subversive comment on the nature of beauty is more likely to fit
the definition of contemporary art than one that is simply
At any one time a particular place or group of artists can have a
strong influence on globally produced contemporary art; for
instance New York artists in the 1980s.
Contemporary art can sometimes seem at odds with a public that does
not feel that art and its institutions share its values. In Britain
in the 1990s contemporary art became a part of popular culture,
with artists becoming stars, but this did not lead to a hoped for
"cultural utopia". However, some critics like Julian Spalding and
have become public
advocates and suggest that skepticism, even rejection, is a
legitimate and reasonable response to much contemporary art.
A common concern since the early part of the 20th century is the
question of what constitutes art. This concern can be seen running
through the "modern
" and "postmodern
" periods. The concept of avant-garde
may come into play in determining
what art is taken notice of by galleries, museums, and collectors.
Serious art is ultimately exceedingly difficult to distinguish
definitively from art that falls short of that designation.
Contemporary art prizes
Some competitions, awards and prizes in contemporary art are
This table lists art movements by decade. It should not be assumed
to be conclusive.
Notes and references