Ten misconceptions about contemporary art
“Contemporary art is just for rich people”, “a five-year-old could do that”, etc. etc. Who hasn’t heard these sorts of comments when visiting an exhibition of contemporary art? Today, KAZoART brings you a survival kit for responding to even the most hardened sceptics! We examine ten misconceptions about contemporary art you will soon be able to dispel with ease…
#1 “Contemporary art, you either love it or you hate it!”
Does that mean there’s only one type of contemporary art? The one undeniable characteristic of contemporary art is its diversity and indefinability. Saying, “I don’t like contemporary art” implies you know everything about ALL contemporary art. Which is impossible, given all the different works, styles and movements in existence! And, more importantly, tastes change over time, bringing us lots of great surprises.
#2 “Even I could do that!”
This is probably the most frequent misconception about contemporary art. But the statement ignores the fact that behind every piece of art lies an artist, lots of hard work and a carefully designed artistic approach. Tell these sorts of sceptics to take a closer look at the artworks in question, to read through the exhibition catalogue and to find out more about the artist. If they still believe they could do the same, tell them to get cracking! Who knows, maybe they have a great artist hidden inside them just waiting to get out?!
#3 “Contemporary art is just for rich people”
Let’s be honest, if you’re looking to get your hands on art by Andy Warhol or Jeff Koons, you may well need to re-mortgage your house. But remember, “contemporary” art also means emerging artists—which means more accessible prices! There are a wealth of unknown and little-known talented artists offering their work for just a few hundred euros. KAZoART is a great example of that!
#4 “Contemporary art is just for snobs…”
It would be a mistake to think contemporary art is snobby or elitist. Yes, some “snobs” might be interested in art, and it’s right that art is particularly accessible to the social and intellectual elite. But thankfully they’re not the only ones. Art is, by its very nature, universal and unclassifiable. It touches every social class, traversing times and eras. There is something for everyone and for every taste. If you’ve explained this to someone and they still insist art is just for snobs, tell them to visit galleries and museums—that way there will be one less snob in the overall balance!
#5 “I don’t know anything about it, it’s not my thing”
Many people wrongly think you need a certain level of background knowledge to understand contemporary art. Yet while it takes many years to master a language, the language of art—more than any other field—relies on emotion. Your eyes, feelings, thoughts, and memories are all elements that will be stimulated by a work of art. Art can even be more moving when its message is neither clear nor explicit, as everything comes down to the feelings it provokes.
#6 “Is that supposed to be beautiful?”
Ah, beauty…. Just what is beauty? It’s a question that takes us back to our school-day philosophy lessons. If you don’t find an artwork beautiful, it just means it hasn’t moved you and you aren’t susceptible to it. But that doesn’t matter! Beauty is, by its very nature, relative and subjective. If you don’t like an artwork, simply move on and find out what other artists have to offer. It’s a good thing too, because if we all liked the same things, there would be a constant battle to get hold of them. Diversity is good! Diversity is beautiful!
#7 “Success just means being controversial!”
What does “success” mean exactly? If we’re talking about success in the art market, this isn’t entirely true. Many “provocative” pieces fail to find buyers because they are considered too shocking or over the top. Nevertheless, if we look from the perspective of the history of art, there is some truth to the statement. Many pieces that were considered provocative or controversial at the time, like the works of Caravaggio and Manet, for example, now seem completely acceptable. Being controversial—or rather defying convention and pushing boundaries—is what artists are supposed to do.
#8 “It’s all just about money”
Money controls a large part of our world, that’s true. It’s obvious that the price of an artwork is determined by factors that could be seen as superficial (artists and gallery managers’ social skills and influence, etc.) and that these don’t necessarily reflect the intrinsic quality of a piece. But it’s important not to limit yourself to the few hundred artists that frequently appear in the news and at major international art shows. Remember that the vast majority of artists do not make a living from their art and that many gallery owners struggle to make ends meet… proving that it is above all a love of art that motivates them in their pursuits.
#9 “Artists are just cranks!”
We’re sorry to break the myth of the poor, tormented artist, but just because artists have a unique sensitivity and strive to look at the world differently, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are anti-social, withdrawn or plagued by madness. They are people just like everyone else, with their own faults and idiosyncrasies—but above all they are real human beings.
#10 “What’s the point of it?”
Detractors often answer this question themselves before even giving you a chance, claiming “there’s no point in art”. But that is the point! Art has no specific intentions. It is a free spirit, an ethereal and indefinable entity that is constantly changing. It is the reflection of a thought, an emotion, an era, an act… What’s the point of asking the question when everyone will have such a different answer?
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