Contemporary art is the subject of many jokes, because it is often unrecognizable. It, like the previous art, is made up of many styles and trends. These styles gained popularity and developed in the upside-down world of painting in the second half of the 20th century. These include conceptualism, pop art, performance and others. Their obvious and significant feature is the frequent absence of the work of art created by the artist’s hands. Amazing, right? Let’s take a look at modern painting styles with examples!
After the era of modernity and the overturning of the Second World War, old ideals were left behind. In the Western world, people abruptly switched from spiritual values to material reality, which was noticed by artists sensitive to changes. Abstract Expressionism became the last trend closely associated with man in the mid-1950s. In the paintings of this style, questions of being were experienced. Their artists emotionally splashed them onto the canvas (Jackson Pollock “Number 17A”; “Number 1A”, 1948). The painting became a pure embodiment of human feelings. This trend was a triumph of pictorial art.
But the form in which the new time would be expressed turned out to be completely different. In the late 1950s, pop art was born – the art of overproduction time. Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Hamilton used the mass market as objects of artistic reflection. They made works devoid of the artist’s personal experiences and automyphs (Roy Lichtenstein “Bam”, 1962).
People were surrounded by advertising and consumer products, from which reality was now built, but how to treat them? Uniqueness was leveled (Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962), and a person needed to relate to the world around him. Pop artists tried to make the attributes of reality a part of art, and this idea worked (Peter Blake “On the Balcony”, 1955-1957, “Sources of Pop Art”, 1967). The inclusion of non-art in art, the layering of cultural codes took place. Brand awareness made this style popular in the widest possible circles.
Art passed on to the masses. Not loaded with personal meanings and symbols, it became available to everyone. And this made it possible to conduct a conversation about culture in a language understandable to everyone! Minimalism originated from pop art. The creators continued to use the discoveries of pop art, more radically departing from the old principles of uniqueness and authorship in their work. Minimalist paintings were distinguished by objectivity, simplicity of form and potential repeatability. They were most of all similar to impersonal mass-produced products. Minimalists did not even create paintings and sculptures with their own hands, they only used ready-made elements of the composition, so authorship was deliberately eliminated (Donald Judd “Untitled”, 1988, Dan Flavin “Monument dedicated to V. Tatlin”, 1966; Sol Levitt “Wall Drawings” , 2006). These works could be done by anyone following the instructions. A work of art in the hands of minimalists has become a representation of an idea, ceasing to be a representation of its author. No wonder Roland Barthes at the same time will make a conclusion about the “death of the author.” Indeed, his role in the new art is as small as possible.
Idea as art
The continuation of these processes was the modern style of drawing Conceptualism (from the Latin “conceptus” – a concept) (1960-1970s). The continuation of the conceptual direction lives in art even now, trying to ask the audience new concepts. Its representatives were focused on the study of ideas and processes in society, which often led to the absence of a complete artistic text (painting, sculpture or other art form) in the usual sense. For conceptualists, the main thing in the work was the idea, and its embodiment was pure formality (Joseph Kossuth One and Three Chairs, 1965; Neon, 1965).
This reasoning sharply marked the complexity of the languages of art. If any idea of art can be an artistic object, then a picture or a book becomes a work of art not by itself, but thanks to the idea embedded within (Marcel Broodthaers “Conversations, Texts, Copies”, 1972-1973; John Baldessari “Painting for Kubler”) !
What was the result of this line of thought of artists? The controversial masterpieces that became the heroes of anecdotes were born: a chair and a photograph of a note with the definition of a “chair” from a dictionary with a photograph of a chair attached to them. But this is a model of any language! Interaction of three elements: meaning (article) – signified (chair) – signified (photograph). Conceptualism was not a homogeneous trend, it could not be contained in a clear formal framework (because the form was no longer an icon). Therefore, within conceptualism, different directions were combined:
- performance (performance – performance / performance) – a direction in which the object of art is premeditated actions of the artist himself (Lady Gaga came to the award in a dress made of meat; Yoko Ono, “Cut Piece”, 1965). The performance is often presented in the form of street performances.
- happening (event) – performances or other kinds of events that take place with the participation of the artist, but spontaneously, without a well-thought-out scenario. The viewer becomes an active participant in the event and a lot depends on him (Jean-Jacques Lebel “Event”, 1966)
- ready-made (ready made) – the artist presents a ready-made object from everyday life as a work (Marcel Duchamp “Fountain”, 1917). As a result of such a representation, the object from the everyday sphere passes into the artistic one, which gives rise to new meanings.
At the same time, in Italy in the late 1960s, arte povera, a poor art, appeared. Its representatives were against mass culture and industrialization. They again turned to the search for myths and symbols that would give meaning to human life. Artists were interested in simple forms and nature in search of the content of modern life (Giuseppe Penone “Door in a tree, cedar”, 2012). Man and the world around him again turned into objects of art. But the use of natural materials in art povera was unique: stones, simple fabrics, sand, etc. Spectators became participants in the production, reflected in the mirror surface of the picture (Michelangelo Pistoletto “Standing Man”, 1962, 1982). Involvement makes the work more emotionally charged.
After looking at a variety of directions, consider how to find your drawing style! Maybe take some paint and try to find it right now? No matter how painting styles change, art is always in fashion.