Should Contemporary Art be considered art? By Carmen María Barrientos Romero

Art is subjective. For this reason, the public reception of art may have a totally diverse reception. Some people may love a specific work of art, whereas others might hate it.

In the history of art, there have been many masterpieces that were controversial in the moment of their creation but are today considered as some of the most important artistic works ever. Two examples of such cases are The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, both by Leonardo da Vinci.

However, these works of art suffered because of what they showed. With Contemporary art is different. Many masterpieces have been mostly rejected because of how the artists decided to show it. The technique and style of creating, characteristic of this new artistic style, break the mold of what we are used to, in order to set new standards in the history of art. Contemporary artists feel freer to experiment with materials and techniques. They don’t look for the representation of reality itself, but express a feeling or a subjective perception of an object.

In addition, it’s not only ordinary people who have shown disdain for contemporary art. The Mexican art critic Avelina Lésper claims that this movement is a total farce and a fraud. According to Paraguayan newspaper ABC Color, in her talk titled Contemporary Art: the unquestionable dogma, at the National School of Plastic Arts in Mexico, Lésper  explained that we are suffering from a complete degradation of art. For her, works like Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain are plagiarism, and she accuses its creator of swindling. The views presented in The Great Contemporary Art Bubble, a documentary by Ben Lewis, coincide with those of Avelina Lésper.

The truth is that works of art cannot be compared, even if they capture the same story, as we can see with Christ on the Cross, by Delacroix, and The Yellow Christ, by Gauguin. Both pieces express the same religious passage but in very different ways: the first one is romantic whereas the second one is modernist.

Perhaps we can say that contemporary art breaks the established rules of art to go beyond the typical comment of “I like/I don’t like”. It invites the spectator to follow not the heart but the mind, since this style doesn’t look to express beauty or reality, but its own perception of the world, different from any other.

What about you? Do you think contemporary art is worthy of being considered as such? Or, on the contrary, do you think that the works by Pollock could have been created in the same way by your six-year-old child?


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