A: “Contemporary art” is defined formally as art made since 1970 by living artists who are still making new work. People often confuse the term “contemporary art” with “modern art,” but they are not the same. “Modern art” refers to art made during the period between, roughly, the 1860’s to 1970.
Nowadays there are so many different kinds of art – new forms are developing all the time – and almost anything can be considered contemporary art as long as someone, an artist, says it is art. Ours is a fascinating, but bewildering, crazy, and often silly art world. Since I am based in New York, I see a lot that makes me ask, “Is this really art?” and “Why would anyone make such a thing?”
If there is one single element I look for in visual art it would have to be a high degree of craft. I enjoy seeing work that is beautiful, well-crafted, and that makes me wonder how the artist made it. With the exception of Ai Weiwei and Julie Mehretu (maybe others I can’t think of just now), I prefer art made by a single creator, as opposed to artists like Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst, who employ dozens of people to make their work.
Comments are welcome!
A: By the time I left the Navy in 1989 to devote myself to making art, I had begun a career as a portrait painter. I needed to make money, this was the only way I could think of to do so, and I had perfected the craft of creating photo-realistic portraits in pastel. It worked for a little while.
A year later I found myself feeling bored and frustrated for many reasons. I didn’t like having to please a client because their concerns generally had little to do with art. Once I ensured that the portrait was a good (and usually flattering) likeness, there was no more room for experimentation, growth, or creativity. I believed (and still do) that I could never learn all there was to know about soft pastel. I wanted to explore color and composition and take this under-appreciated medium as far as possible. It seemed likely that painting portraits would not allow me to accomplish this. Also, I tended to underestimate the amount of time needed to make a portrait and charged too small a fee.
So I decided commissioned portraits were not for me and made the last one in 1990 (above). I feel fortunate to have the freedom to create work that does not answer to external concerns.
Comments are welcome!