Contemporary Art Movements

contemporary art works yayoi kusama

In my previous article, I wrote about the movements, famous works and pioneering artists of MODERN ART. Contemporary art, which many people confuse with modern art, is actually an extension of modern art.

Defining contemporary art can sometimes be difficult. Although the word contemporary is simple and easy to understand, its meaning is not so clear when used in conjunction with art. Fortunately, once you trace the history of the term “contemporary” and explore its underlying themes, it is easy to understand what it means.

What is Contemporary Art?

In its most basic sense, the term contemporary art refers to art produced ‘today’, namely painting, sculpture, photography, installation, performance and video art. While it sounds simple, the details surrounding this definition are often a bit vague, as people’s interpretations of “today” vary from person to person. Therefore, the exact starting point of this movement is still up for debate, but many art historians consider the late 1960s or early 1970s (the end of modern art or modernism) to be an accurate estimate.

Differences between Modern and Contemporary Art

Contemporary artists are more interested in what is happening today and how it relates to their personal lives. For modern artists, however, it is more important to break away from traditional styles and explore new ways of creating art.

In a way, I can say that contemporary art has been an important force in shaping modern culture. The best example of this is Andy Warhol. The contemporary art world is constantly changing and evolving. It’s really hard to keep up with all the new movements and trends.

Contemporary Art Movements

Considering the definition of “today’s art”, contemporary art actually has a relatively long history. The way to better understand it is to know the main movements in its history and to get to know the artists of the period.

Pop Art

We can call contemporary art a reaction to previous modern art movements and it is said to have started after pop art. Pop art is a movement developed in post-war Britain and America by artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. It is defined by an interest in representing popular culture and reinventing commercial products as accessible art. This movement generally lasted from the 1950s to the early 1970s, but was reborn in the 1980s as Neo-Pop Art thanks to artists such as Jeff Koons.

contemporary art andy warhol pop art
Andy Warhol


Just as Pop Art artists focused on the artistic recreation of objects, artists of the photorealism movement embraced the creation of surreal drawings and paintings. Photorealists often worked from photographs, reinterpreting portraits and landscapes in different ways. Chuck Close and Gerhard Richter often worked in this style.

photorealism contemporary art movement chuck close
Chuck Close


Similarly, pop art helped shape conceptualism. Conceptualism rejected the idea of art as a commodity. In conceptual art, the focus is on the idea behind a work of art. Some of the most important conceptual artists include Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei and Jenny Holzer. 21. This experimental movement, rooted in the art of the turn of the century, emerged as an official movement in the 1960s and remains an important contemporary art movement to this day.

cagdas sanat akimi kavramsal sanat
Steven Parrino


Like Conceptualism, Minimalism emerged in the 1960s and is still prevalent today. According to Tate, both movements “challenged existing structures for the production, distribution and appreciation of art.” What distinguishes minimalism, however, is that its simple, abstract aesthetic invites the viewer to react to what they see rather than what they think a particular work of art represents. Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Dan Flavin are some of the most important artists of minimalism.

minimalism in contemporary art movements
Robert Morris

Performance Art

Another movement with conceptualist roots is performance art, a drama-inspired approach to art that began in the 1960s and remains popular today. An art form (as the name suggests) is performed by an artist, but it is not solely for entertainment purposes, instead its purpose is to convey a message or idea. Key performance artists include Marina Abramović, Yoko Ono and Josef Beuys.

cagdas sanat performans sanatlari
Marina Abramović

Installation Art

Like the performance movement, installation art is an immersive art medium. Installation is the name given to three-dimensional works that change their surroundings and alter the viewer’s perception of space. Often large-scale and site-specific, artists can transform any space into a customized, interactive environment. Notable installation artists include Yayoi Kusama, Dale Chihuly and Bruce Munro.

contemporary art works yayoi kusama
Yayoi Kusama

In fact, in the past years, Yayoi Kusama signed a joint project with the famous fashion company Louis Vuitton and Louis Vuitton offered a limited edition Yayoi Kusama special collection for sale.

Louis Vuitton showcase designed by Yayoi Kusama

Earth Art

A unique variation of installation art, earth art (or land art) is a movement in which artists transform natural landscapes into site-specific artworks. In this branch of contemporary art, Robert Smithson, Christo and Jeanne-Claude and Andy Goldsworthy stand out with their avant-garde earthworks.

cagdas sanat yeryuzu sanati
Nancy Holt

Street Art

One of the latest contemporary art movements, street art is a genre that came to the fore with the rise of graffiti in the 1980s. Often rooted in social activism, street art consists of murals, installations, stencil paintings and stickers placed in public spaces. Prominent street artists include 1980s figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, as well as working artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey.

cagdas sanat graffiti

Contemporary Art in Digital World

Contemporary art is constantly evolving and more and more artists are using new technologies to enhance their creativity. This is based on the Art of Coding, which can create everything from abstract compositions to futuristic vector portraits. As AI continues to evolve, some artists are using the technology to create surreal portraits that test the line between reality and imagination.

In this field, the works of a Turkish artist are at the forefront in the international arena. Refik Anadol is one of the most important contemporary artists in the world today with his digital art.

refik anadol contemporary art in digital
Refik Anadol

Crypto Art, which leverages blockchain technology, has been growing since 2020. As the digital artist Beeple’s NFT collage achieved a historic $69 million sale at Christie’s, more and more artists and art institutions are realizing the possibilities of this art form.

the world's most expensive crypto artwork

There is an NFT art boom as crypto art allows digital artists to monetize previously hard-to-sell works. What is the future of this art, will the NFT continue to be popular, all these questions remain a big question mark for now. But it is certain that art will always exist.

Hope to meet in days full of art…

Emre Ertürk 300 × 300 px 1

Sharing is Caring

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

From Emre Erturk's Pen...