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The Needle's Haystack: Where You Find Art
This new blog will explain what contemporary art is about and how it differs from modernism.
The author is currently writing a book on art theory from modernism till today. Modern art has been heavily theory driven, with influential critics like Clement Greenberg shaping much of our conception of abstraction and painting. The theory-heavy discourse became ever more dense with conceptual art and postmodernism.
Contemporary art researches and investigates, sometimes it engages in activism. Today, there are hardly any serious discussions about what art is. It is virtually taken for granted that contemporary art should engage with certain popular subject matters such as migration, surveillance capitalism, gender stereotypes and body image, identity politics, repression, climate change, and mass extinction, to name a few. Institutional critique makes the power of art institutions themselves the subject of its investigations. Whereas modernism revelled in formalistic and aesthetic explorations, contemporary art seems obliged to deal with our social and political reality first and foremost.
However, contemporary art has also introduced some innovative forms such as performance, participatory work, collaborative practice in workshops, and relational aesthetics. There is an awareness of the importance of the materials, which are not the neutral carriers of images which a painting on a canvas is usually understood to be; the choice of materials is significant.
The Needle's Haystack may also publish writing about music, and thoughts about politics and news media, in particular as they relate to art. The blog intends to stay open access in hope of engaging in an exchange of thoughts on art in general, and contemporary art in particular. The first regular post introduces the reader to the sociologist Nathalie Heinich's work and her proposed paradigms of classical, modern, and contemporary art.
Read it here:
Risto Holopainen is also a visual artist, with no formal training in art history or visual arts but a keen interest in aesthetics and writings about art.