The Future of Contemporary Art

Ever stopped to think about how much life has changed within the past 5 years? During this time we have all done a major communications overhaul. I Tweet; I post a blog; I belong to at least one of your groups on LinkedIn (and like you I’m also looking for career opportunities); I monitor my friends status updates on Facebook as if they’re a running tally on the story of their lives and am completely willing to give you the thumbs up/”like” that you deserve; and I do it all while I’m sending out mass text messages. Chances are you’re like this too. People everywhere have embraced rapid information distribution by using these new and timely mediums. More than ever before, we feel as though we have access to almost anyone almost everywhere. This broadened ability to openly communicate paired with recent world-wide economic turmoil have lead to a collective human experience that is the first element essential to contemporary criticism. Artists, at least the good ones, are often cultural predictors. Because of this, these changes should be reflected in art. I don’t necessarily mean that they should be visually represented, what I do mean is that the affect of these changes should provide a thematic undercurrent. In the coming years look for pieces that exhibit the following:

A return to existentialism. As the technological and urban landscape changes a sense of disillusionment will prevail. Much like artists during and after the industrial revolution, artists today will note the changes that our world is undergoing. This will provide a sense of irony to creative types who, although living in a time of greater accessibility and open communication, will become disenchanted and powerless. This powerlessness will spawn from two things: 1) The internet. Although we can now access people within an instant, tens of thousands of miles away, these types of communications limit our actual physical and verbal interaction with other human beings. This will bring a loneliness and sense of powerlessness that echoes modernist theory. 2) The failing economy. This is upsetting to everyone and adds to a sense of helplessness.

Culture focused work. This will occur as we have greater accessibility to other countries and cultures and will continue to be facilitated by changes that the art market is undergoing. No one even knows where the center of the art world is right now. New York? London? Berlin? The answer is that there is no art epicenter any longer. Art has gone global. We’re now in the age of the Biennial and the art fair. Auction houses have locations throughout the world and interest has been peaked in every region. Internet bidding has also encouraged this. In 2007 Christies introduced internet bidding by 2008 the number of people registered to bid had increased by 117%.

Installation. The eighties brought about a focus on performance and video art, the late eighties and early nineties focused on photography, and the late 90s and early 2000s ushered in the resurgence of painting. Since everything is cyclical, expect to see some amazing installations. Also expect Cildo Meireles see right, to become more recognized. Meireles offers a combo of the existential, personal culture, and conceptualism that collectors will find irresistible. Plus, he has a ton of heavy hitting collectors that are supportive of his vision.

Disassociation from the trappings of wealth. This will be one of the main holdovers from postmodernism. The bottom-line is that no one has extra money, even the art market, although in better condition than other markets that are economic indicators, has suffered. The days of flipping a young artist’s work for double or triple what you initially paid for it within a year is over. The inflated prices from the early 2000s will be viewed by artists as bad time for fine art. Disillusionment about the art and artists whose work was unreasonably priced will lead to art for more altruistic purposes. As galleries become less willing to accept and fund new artists, the disassociation with the trappings of the former art market, and with financial dependence, will be complete.

References to art history, nods to the past. This will not be with the immediate past; there will be a love affair with the 50s-70s, inspiration will likely come from installation and performance art. Yoko Ono’s work will continue to gain in momentum and influence a new generation of conceptualists. In a basic sense, art history will be a more central focus because most of the viable artists will be more seasoned and classically trained.

No more ironic portrayals of pop culture. The pop art aesthetic is over. Art will be more cerebral. Koons, and Hirst will take their rightful place in Art History but their portrayal of contemporary society will feel dated. Irony will still be a necessary, but it no longer involves funny portrayals things as they relate to the consumer tendency of bourgeoisie life.


Studio222 Photography said...

I love reading your blog Matilda! Seriously I feel like I'm enrolled in a class and I should be taking notes. You're such an amazing writer and make it all easily relatable but it's got so much insanely good information in it that I feel like I may need to read it three times before it all sinks in. ;)

And... on a different note, I am still in love with one of the prints on that 20x200 website. I just have to come up with a good place to put it and it will be mine. I wonder if you can guess which one it is. ;)