3 Key Topics Of Contemporary Art

ARTLIFE ACADEMY
2 min readMar 29, 2021

Modern art can be difficult to understand without context. But if we don’t understand the meaning of an artwork right away, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Let’s figure out what scientific discoveries and historical events inspired artists to unexpected artworks in the 20th century.

Scientific progress

One of the important questions for the art of the XX century is «How Science Changes Our World». For the first time, this topic was touched by futurists at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. Artists reflected on space, consciousness and the place of a human in the world. At the end of the 20th century, a separate direction emerged from this reflex, Science Art. It is an area of contemporary art at the intersection of science, technology and creativity.

War

In the 20th century, one of the key themes was war. Expressionists were the first to address this topic: they started distorting space, people’s faces, using artificial colors and sharp contrasts. Their artworks are a reflection of the peace crippled by the First World War. The topic was continued by neo-expressionists and, after World War II, by abstractionists. For Mark Rothko, for example, the transition to abstraction was provoked by the horrors of war. He said: «In the face of this horror, the human figure is not even able to raise a hand in a desperate gesture». Our contemporaries also address the theme of war: in 2014 Gerhard Richter presented the series of works «Birkenau».

Politics

Of course, in their artworks, artists also addressed the topic of politics. Artists who talk about politics often turned their lives into political action. For example, when the art-group «War» awarded the state prize, they gave money to political prisoners.

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