Coming up with an accurate definition of contemporary art can be a bit daunting for everyone. Even though its title is straightforward and simplistic, the modern-day meaning is not that obvious. Luckily, understanding what falls under ‘contemporary’ is quite possible once you trace its history and get to know the underlying themes. 


Understanding Contemporary Art
Contemporary art, in its most basic sense, defines art like sculpture, installation, painting, video-art, photography and performance. Even though it is quite simple, the details of this definition are a bit unclear because ‘today’ means different things to everyone. Therefore, there is debate about the starting point of this genre, but historians consider the 1960s or 1970s to be the starting point. 

Major Movements and Artists
Some of the important movements and known artists that are associated with contemporary art are:

Pop Art
It is widely believed that contemporary art started on the heels of pop art as it was intended to be a reaction to all preceding art movements. Artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol pioneered Pop Art in post-war America and Britain. This art is linked to an interest in reimagining commercial products and showing mass culture as accessible art. The movement started in the 1950s and went as long as the 1970s. Later, artists like Jeff Koons brought about its rebirth in the 1980s as Neo-Pop Art. Today, artists like Marko Stout, are indulging in industrial pop art. 

An Introduction to Marko Stout
An American contemporary artist, Marko Stout has become renowned for his industrial pop style. He has focused on New York City and the modern urban life in his work. Stout uses different types of media for portraying his work including painting, film, sculpture, print, new media, and photography. His colors and themes have been likened to those of Andy Warhol. New York became a source of inspiration for him and his love for the city is reflected in this work. His work has been endorsed by numerous celebrities like the Kardashians, Charlie Sheen, Billie Eilish, and David Hasselhoff. 

Artists interested in Pop Art reproduced objects artistically and likewise, those interested in photorealism were focused on creating hyperrealistic paintings and drawings. Photorealists often used photographs as these allowed them to create landscapes, portraits, and another iconography more accurately. Gerhard Richter and Chuck Close often opted for this style.


Materializing in the 1960s, minimalism remains prevalent these days as well. This movement challenged the structures for disseminating, making and even viewing art. Minimalism stood out because of its abstract, simple aesthetic that encourages observers to respond to what they view rather than what the art represents. Some key Minimalist artists include Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd. 

The idea of art being a commodity was rejected by Conceptualism, which was also shaped by Pop Art. In concept art, greater importance is given to the idea behind a piece of art. Some of the prominent conceptual artists include Jenny Holzer, Ai Wei Wei and Damien Hirst. While this experimental movement began has its roots in the early 21st century, it became a formal movement in the 1960s and is still a strong contemporary art movement today. 

Performance Art
This movement also has Conceptualist roots and began in the 1960s. It has managed to retain its popularity even today. In simple terms, this approach to art is inspired by drama. As the name suggests, Performance Art involves artists performing the art form, but it is not solely designed for entertainment. The purpose is to convey an idea or message. Joseph Beuys, Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic are some notable performance artists.