What’s next for contemporary art?
One stalwart feature of art movements is that they inevitably come to an end. Art movements can be seen as evolutions from other movements, although those evolutions sometimes re-explore and revamp older movements.
Given that contemporary art as a movement has been around since around 1960, it can be reasonably expected that a new movement or trend will soon emerge.
Alina Cohen, writing for artsy.net predicts, among other trends, that “the pendulum will swing back to abstraction.”
Alina Cohen, writing for artsy.net predicts, among other trends, that “the pendulum will swing back to abstraction.” In keeping with the norms of art history, abstraction has experienced evolutions and devolutions. Much like political action, most art movements constitute major progressive changes, followed by conservative reactions to them. Impressionism was followed by post-impressionism, which evolved into the abstractions of the early twentieth century, which were followed by a return to the figurative with pop-art and surrealism.
In the 2010s, figurative art dominated the market. With a new political and cultural emphasis, many artists returned to figurative art as a means to express their musings on society. Whereas abstraction left interpretation of the work up to the viewer, much of contemporary figurative art leaves no aspect to the imagination.
The symbolism in Rodriguez’s 2013 work is clear. Associating human faces, implied by the title to be those of migrants, with what would appear to be a monarch butterfly calls direct attention to society’s conflicting and contradictory views of migrants. Monarch butterflies, who make migrate each year to Mexico, are highly charismatic, and treasured by many. Human migrants, however, are often met with vitriol, and even violence. By intermeshing human migrants with butterflies, Rodriguez makes a clear and political statement on her views of society’s opinions of migrants.
More than just being dominant in the market for some time, figurative art may be worn out in today’s political climate. After the political turmoil of the latter half of the 2010s, many art consumers may be fatigued from the constant barrage of political messaging, and abstract art may represent a sort of reprieve from explicit political grandstanding. More than that, however, the change of power in the American presidency left much of the country with a newfound sense of hope — although the nation still faces myriad social issues, consumers’ preferences in art are likely to reflect their newfound hope, and shift away from the gritty, heavy-handed political symbolism that dominated figurative contemporary art in the 2010s.
So what does this mean for you as a future artist? It means that your art should more than likely reflect popular sentiment. Although this may seem like a sellout, remember that you’ll need to sell a good deal of work before you can enjoy the ‘economy of attention’ that Dr. Alessia Zorloni described in 2016. Once you can exploit the effects of that economy, you’ll have more freedom to create the sort of art that you want. But in the meantime, in order to make your work desirable to consumers, it might be best to keep with abstraction and stray away from heavy-handed political messaging.
As the art world turns to accessibility and diversity, many consumers remain excluded
Price is another vastly important factor in the art market. As the art world turns to accessibility and diversity, many consumers remain excluded, prohibited by steep prices. In 2019, the average price of a work of contemporary art was $25,140, a 238.4% increase from average prices in 2007. The advent of online galleries are helping to mitigate some of that inflation, as I’ll discuss in a future post.
As galleries and auction houses move online, we can hope to see an increase in the accessibility of art for all consumers, and a decrease in cost. Of course, artists still need to make a living. The upside, however, is that lesser known contemporary artists are able to both sell their works directly and post them to Amazon.com-like sites dedicated solely to selling contemporary art online.
Rise Art, one such online depot, even extends to buyers the option of renting works of art for low, accessible monthly payments.
As these online art depots gain traction in the market, we can expect new consumers to enter into the market, no longer excluded by prohibitively high prices found at brick-and-mortar auction houses. Rise Art, one such online depot, even extends to buyers the option of renting works of art for low, accessible monthly payments.
The transition to online art sales is nothing but good news for students like you. Much as brick-and-mortar auction houses presented a barrier to consumers entering the art market, so too did they prevent lesser-known artists from entering the mainstream market. Online auction houses and galleries mean that almost anybody can sell their work online, and no longer have to wait for the effects of the economy of attention to be able to sell their works to a wide audience.
In short, the art world can be hard to predict. But, using historical precedent, we can reasonably expect to see a return to abstraction in art itself, and lower prices and increased accessibility through online sales in the market. This means that for aspiring artists like you, you might do best to start creating abstract art, and to start selling that art online. By creating abstract art and selling it online, you may be able to preempt a major trend in the art world and have your work available to the greatest number of consumers.
ArtPrice.com. (n.d.). The Contemporary Art Market Report 2020. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://www.artprice.com/artprice-reports/the-contemporary-art-market-report-2020/the-contemporary-art-rush
Cohen, A. (2019, December 20). Our Predictions for Art in the 2020s. Artsy. https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-art-2020s
Rise Art. (n.d.). Browse Art. Rise Art. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from https://www.riseart.com/art