Contemporary Art vs. Modern Art

Dear Liza,

Frank Benson’s “Portrait of Elizabeth”, from 1901, is Modern Art

I learn a lot when I go to PAM, our art museum, with Auntie Bridgett. She has studied art history, so she helps me see things in perspective.

All these styles, from 1890 to 1940 or so, are Modern Art!

For example, I always thought that since Modern usually means the newest and most current thing, that Modern would be the newest, latest art. I was wrong! Modern art, as it turns out, had a specific time span, from just before 1850 to about 1950. So Modern art is older than me!

One of Monet’s Parasol ladies, about 1875, is Modern Art

Modern Art also had a lot of different styles in it… Picasso’s cubism, Salvatore Dali’s surrealism, and abstract art are all “Modern” art.

Abstract, Modern Art

Art that is done NOW, (or at least, since 1950) is called “Contemporary” Art.

Since it is newer and not carried in as many museums or art books, people aren’t as used to seeing it… so they say “That’s not art,” which is exactly what people said about the great Impressionist Monet (1850s-1920) when HE started. It was “smudgy”, “sloppy”, and “unfinished”. They didn’t get it.

Aldridge’s “Biophilia”, from 2007, is Contemporary Art

So when I see Contemporary Art and think “That’s not art”, I try to hold my tongue. I try to see what idea the artist is trying to get across, and how well that did it. It can be a challenge, but challenges are good.

Art keeps making me ask questions and think harder about things.


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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