Difference Between Modern and Contemporary Art

Difference Between Modern and Contemporary Art

Art has been a way of life for us humans from the earliest days until today. It is an expression of human creativity in an unusual, diverse, and deeply connected way in most cases. But no matter how awesome you think a work is, there is always someone out there who thinks the exact opposite. In most cases, this has to do with the basic traits of the work being referred to. Understanding these fundamentals help you understand the difference between modern and contemporary art, as well as other fields of art.

Definition of Modern Art

Modern art refers to works produced in the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, a period also referred to as the chronological era. It can also be defined as a philosophical movement directed towards challenging the definition of art.

There was no sense in sticking to a strict set of rules about what is and what is not art as there was before the end of the 19th century. Artists became tired of having their creativity limited to these set of strict rules, and they began to push the limits of traditional assumptions. This was the revolution that changed the whole idea and approach towards human artistic expressions. This difference between modern and contemporary art change was welcomed and it gave birth to the latter.

Talking about the difference, this change brought about new ways of expression.

  • The use of new materials

There was a limit on what could and what could be used before this time. This made it challenging for people to really expressed themselves, especially if they couldn’t afford the required materials. The change brought about the use of even materials that may be regarded as rubbish to create amazing pieces. Newspapers, plastics, bottles, cars, bicycles, etc, are some of the materials that were accepted.

  • Use of new techniques

The start of new techniques like chromolithography, automatic drawing, decalcomania, frottage, and a lot of other original techniques were developed during this time.

  • Expressive colors

The very first major color exploitation started at this time. This gave rise to Fauvism, Expressionism and Color field painting. This was a major modern art and contemporary art difference that has taken different angles.

  • A totally different type of art

Under this era, original expressions were developed, like collage, kinetic, assemblage, animation, performance, and land.

Definition of Contemporary Art

Contemporary art, simply put, is the art of today which has been and continues to be created in our lifetime. As you can imagine, this definition encompasses a wide range of pieces and forms. This, in comparison with modern art forms, can be referred to as modern art and contemporary art difference in the sense that there is no creator of the former who is still alive, but no so in the case of the latter. This era started towards the end of the 20th century, after the world came to accept it for what it was. There were no longer strict rules guiding what an artist could produce. Basically, you’re free to express your creativity and even push boundaries if you like.

Although a lot of changes were made in modern art, there were still a lot of rigid forms in it. They still centered on some topics which placed a level of limit on them. This is not the case with modern art where artists are free to explore all boundaries without necessarily referring to any certain topics.

Another keynote that answers the question – what is the difference between modern art and contemporary art? – could be seen in their impacts on the social media communities. The latter is very widely accepted and openly discussed on social media platforms, unlike the former.

Modern vs Contemporary Art Comparison Table

Basis of Comparison Modern Art – MA Contemporary Art – CA
Definition Works produced within the late 19th to mid-20th century, referred to as the chronological era and philosophical movement directed towards challenging the definition of art The art of today which has been and continues to be created in our lifetime
Artists No longer living Mostly living
Date Late 19th to mid-20th century Late 20th century to date
Rigidity Small traces of rigidity No rigidity at all
Social media impact Not so widely accepted Very much accepted

Conclusion of Main Difference Between Modern vs Contemporary Art

MA refers to the period that began in the 1880s and that lasted until the 1960s. CA is said to be the art that was developed after the 1960s and is still emerging.

CA is created by artists who are still alive. The late 1900s saw major social, political, and cultural reformations across the world which had greatly influenced this art form. It has some social impact, and the artists had a significant freedom and liberty to experiment with all styles.

Artists like Van Gogh and Manet are credited with revolutionizing the art in the 1880s and giving it a new dimension. They emphasized the subjective representation of subjects rather than focusing on the realism that prevailed before the 1880s.