Contemporary Conceptualism – Art since 2000
A particularly broad label for contemporary art in which the ideas regarding the making or meaning of an art object are considered just as important as (or often more important than) the artwork itself. When compared to historical Conceptual Art, contemporary conceptual works more often embrace interdisciplinary approaches, audience participation, or the critique of institutions, political systems, and social and cultural hierarchies. Conceptual works can also often easily be identified with other broad categories, particularly performance art, new media, and installation. In light of recent political upheavals and worldwide economic downturn, the call to social action—which can be embedded in, related to, or merely inferred by an artwork—has become one of the most common characteristics of contemporary conceptual art.
Over the past decade, art has taken an incredible variety of forms. One particular tendency of the present moment involves co-opting the public sphere (both analogue and digital) as a venue for artistic interventions, which has blurred the distinctions between artist, curator, and activist. Ambitious public projects such as Olafur Eliasson’s Waterfalls coexist with increasing interest in street art and DIY practice. Christian Marclay’s The Clock combines rigorous archival research with an interest in the history of popular media, while socially-engaged practice has garnered both popular participation and official sanction, ranging from Carsten Höller’s spectacular installations to Pussy Riot’s political actions. Amidst the diversity of contemporary art though it is easy to forget the long-standing traditions of painting and sculpture remain central to artistic production.