Editors' Pick 2015 - Best Articles on Contemporary Art
There’s one certain thing that could be said about art: there is always something else to discover. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, fresh visions in photography come along, an intriguing painting technique emerges, old becomes new in fascinating ways, and that’s just the beginning. The arts are a beautiful tool of self-expression that other people can relate to, like a thing so universal, yet so personal. I, for one, think art is highly subjective, although it’s true that some people know more about it than others. Someone once said objectivity doesn’t exist, and perhaps art is particularly democratic, and it becomes objective once many subjectivities come to agree on an opinion about it. As versatile and vast as it is, art often asks for that opinion, poses questions, confuses and illuminates. And it’s all those things, and many more, that make it simply wonderful.
As we’re slowly saying goodbye to 2015, we will once again take a look over our shoulders and review the year in terms of the best articles on contemporary art over its course. We tackled many topics, art movements, artists, the market and its protagonists, talked about history and its influence, and wondered about the future. These were quite eventful 365 days, and we’re sure the ones ahead of us will be just as exciting.
Scroll down to check out our best articles on contemporary art in 2015.
Graffiti - Art or Vandalism ?
”Is it art?” A question sometimes said and heard in museums, galleries, movie theatres, concert arenas, any place of creation. One such place is also the street, where the spectators often seem to wonder: “Is graffiti art or vandalism ?” If we take into consideration that graffiti have been around since prehistoric times, it sounds as if this debate is all too hoary; however, we shall look at graffiti as the phenomenon of a much more recent period, and in that context, the debate is only about fifty years old. As a response to modernism and social segregation, graffiti became the means of communication and identity for young people in New York City in the 1970s. The famous story of the NYC subway graffiti culture and the almost two-decade long struggle of the authorities to eradicate tagging represent the starting point of the conversation, a hot topic of the art world even today.
Read our answer to this question here.
Groundbreaking Pop Artists
The international phenomenon that was Pop Art, emerged in the mid-1950s and early 1960s. Some six decades later, the influence and mark of pop art artists can be seen in almost every aspect of our modern society. Considered by some as a direct descendant of Dadaism, regarding the way it mocked the established art world by appropriating images from the street, supermarket, mass media and presented it as art in itself, Pop Art focused on mass production, celebrity and the expanding industries of advertising, TV, radio and print media. Ultimately, it shaped a completely new cultural identity in the field of art and design. The art movement aimed to elevate popular culture to the level of fine art, thus blurring the lines between high and low arts. With one of the key principles being that there is no hierarchy of culture and that art should be able to borrow from any source, Pop Art challenged the traditions of fine art, questioned the established framework of creation and introduced a whole new world of aesthetics. So, let us have a look at ten names whose work generated, developed, influenced and formed the colorful and vivid world of Pop Art.
See who they are here.
The Influence of Color Field Painting
Pioneered by the Mark Rothko, Barnet Newman and Clyfford Still in the late 1940’s, color field painting became a significant movement in the decades that followed, influencing the generations of young artists worldwide. Diverging from the gestural abstraction, color field painting became a significant source of inspiration for those artists more interested in the expressive potential of color, independent from the suggestion of forms or lines. We have recently discussed the return of the abstract art in the artistic practice and its big comeback on the global art market, and this offspring of the abstract expressionism should not be overlooked. Color field painting is still alive and well today, and there are numerous contemporary artists following the footsteps of their predecessors, building on the foundation which was dismissed by the critics decades ago.
Read more about this art movement’s heritage here.
Architectural Creations of Deconstructivism
Those weird-looking, distorted, almost impossible-to-comprehend buildings that make you wonder how anyone could design, let alone build such a construct, are actually part of a very specific, non-rectilinear approach to design, called – Deconstructivism. Often described as one of the most visually striking and perplexing types of art ever developed, Deconstructivism is characterized by the use of fragmentation, manipulation of ideas of a structure’s surface or skin, redefinition of shapes and forms, and radical manifestation of complexity in a building. Focusing more on the freedom of form, rather than functional concerns, the Deconstructivists aim to perplex the visitor, making the stay in their building an experience worth remembering, and the interior is as much as mesmerizing as the exterior in most cases, even more wondrous in some. At first glance, the primary visual effect of this architectural style displays a chaotic, unorthodox, mind-bending and almost impossible shape of a building, but these unusual projects are actually planned out and executed with utter precision and calculation. The fragmented parts of objects, distorted walls, bending roofs, swirling passages and oddly shaped interior are even meant to create a feeling of discomfort or confusion. The concept of controlled chaos is not something people are usually used to seeing in architecture. This fragmented style is believed to have developed from Post Modernism, which began in the late 1980s.
See these buildings here.
A Word on Cuban Art
During the Obama administration, policy toward Cuba had been fluctuating from tendencies of liberalization to the resurfacing of old discourses. However, much has changed in December 2014, as the two countries began a new chapter in international relations. The most important cultural aspect of the changes in relations is reflected in the transformation of the nature of free travel. In this regard, this change comes as one of the most important news for Cuban Americans – both those who have fled the country after the Second World War, as well as new generations who will have a chance to travel to the space of their cultural heritage freely. However, here, we shall be looking at how this occurrences, and some others, have put contemporary Cuban art back in the center of international art discourses.
More on the topic here.
World’s First Photographs
In the age when taking a selfie, or simply photographing your everyday activities, has become a sort of a routine, one must stop and wonder for a second – when did it all start? The oldest photograph ever taken goes back to the year of 1827. To be more precise, this would be the date of creation of the first permanent photograph taken from ‘’nature’’, since the same author, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, had already created a photograph depicting an engraving in 1825, using the technique of heliography, which he himself invented. Recently we’ve went through 10 examples of the world’s first photographs, now let’s look into some of those examples and explore other ones that changed the way we see the world.
See the ten examples here.
Jini Dellaccio, A Rock & Roll Photographer
Her Aim is True is a 2013 film documentary put together by Washington DC based British movie-maker Karen Whitehead, boasting music legend Eddie Vedder, best known as vocalist with Pearl Jam, as executive producer. It was first shown at the Seattle International Film Festival, on May 26, 2013. Her Aim is True is the story of Jini Dellaccio, who after starting out as a freelance fashion photographer in the 1950s, reinvented herself as a music photographer during the 1960s. The Karen Whitehead documentary tells the fascinating story of Jini Dellaccio, now recognized as one of the most innovative rock & roll photographers, from her roots playing jazz saxophone in all girl bands during the 1930s, to how she came to hang out with legendary musicians such as The Sonics and Neil Young. Her Aim is True documents for the first time in 50 years, the remarkable legacy of Jini, and how a middle aged woman became one of the most daring and innovative photographers, capturing the music in its early years, with iconic imagery of bands from the Pacific Northwest and live photographs of legends such as The Who, The Beach Boys, Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds.
More about Jini’s art and life here.
Future Predicting Andy Warhol Quotes
What can you possibly say about someone like Andy Warhol that’s not been said already by, well, everyone even remotely interested in art? We can try telling his story through Andy Warhol quotes and we can only continue to acknowledge his remarkable contributions to the world at large while his astonishing legacy lives on. Andy Warhol was a true mastermind of his time, having re-defined so many concepts and introduced new ones that became new standards in no time. But it never stopped there – the Warhol-ism is still very much alive and well, and everything that the artist touched turned to gold that still shines, brighter than ever. His pop art, paintings, photographs, silk screens, sculptures, films, music, the Interview magazine, books, all very fresh and new almost thirty years after his death. It is a physical testimony that Andy Warhol could predict the future, something we could also notice from the many brilliant things he used to say as well. Here are some of the Andy Warhol quotes which are still more than relevant today.
Read his wise words here.
What Was Dismaland Really About?
Dismaland Bemusement Park was hyped from the beginning, more than any other project by any renowned artist in recent times. It is no wonder since Banksy is known for organizing some controversial and spectacular events in the past. The fans and the general public alike were eagerly awaiting to see how his biggest project to date turns out, ever since the first rumors started circling. However, now that Dismaland is open, the hopes and expectations seem to taper off. Announced as ingenious creation, for many visitors Dismaland turned out to be quite boring and unengaging experience.
Or was that the whole point? Continue reading here.
Farewell to Hilla Becher
It is indeed an end of an era in contemporary photography. Hilla Becher, of influential photographic duo Bernd (or Bernhard) and Hilla Becher, has died on October 10th 2015, eight years after the death of her collaborator and husband, at the age of 81. Together, the Bechers revolutionized the documentation of landscape and the way this type of imagery is perceived, through many series of curated chronicles of industrial architecture scenery. Over the past fifty years, they developed a unique technique in portraiture, where their subjects were man-made structures, but not the man himself. Bernd and Hilla Becher started a journey which left one of the deepest marks on the world of contemporary photography. They had an immense influence on entire generations of international and German artists and photographers, among which there are Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky and Candida Hofer, and their legacy will certainly be an important part in history of photography for centuries to come.
More about the legacy of the Bechers here.
All images used for illustrative purposes only.