Here’s the truth of the matter: we need to appreciate contemporary artists’ new levels of creativity, because it does appear to be that art is running dry of inspiration. Have we come to the end of this cul-de-sac?
In ‘The End of Art History,’ the editor of The Jackdaw highlighted that ’25 years used to be a long time in art…from 1985 to 2010 we’ve had only Conceptualism which is claimed to be varied when it isn’t.’ Is this the sign of the end? A montony in works is undeniable. I can never stop recalling how Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ was in fact a joke and at art’s expense. But I am sure that counterfeit works of today that are gaining significant limelight are intended to be sober fine art. I’m saddened so many still find this humour gratifying. One hundred years some ‘contemporary art’ is scarily similar to Duchamp’s piss-take.
Crucial to our appreciation is that we remember that contemporary art matches contemporary thinking, and it can only a reflection on the times that we live in. If we don’t find a way to appreciate that we can get lost in the past, which doesn’t carry the same relevance or life. This is how we separate the truly contemporary for the pseudo-modern of artists, and the geniuses from the imitators. Those that are simply playing Duchamp’s game may well be educated in art history, skilled in craftsmanship (even if it is not utilised) and prolific and profitable artists, yet they are thinking in the context of World War Two’s machine age - they are not a truly contemporary artist. Real contemporary art is reputable.
There are so many aspects of contemporary art that should be celebrated because they exalt the privileges of 21st century British living. Freedom of speech being one – in Britain at least, there is no ruling body to define art that is good and worthy of being seen, and there are no laws which discuss acceptable subject matters, or points of view to be held in art. In society, and in art, there is the best sense there has ever been of equality in race, sex and sexuality. And art has the freedom of expression for the minorities to proclaim their identity.
At times, art may not be pretty; it may be a reaction of disgust to the modern world – to war and injustice, to social problems such as poverty, depression and eating disorders. Brutal subject matters make for brutal works of art – it would be wrong for injustice to be praised in a placid pastel scene. The honesty of contemporary art, the boldness, and the daring is wholly worth dropping your eyebrows and removing your frown because its honesty welcomes a plethoric frankness about the culture in which we live in.