Contemporary Art DefinitionSource(Google.com.pk)
This is an excellent question, and one that isn't asked often enough. Presumably, this is another one of those art definitions we are all supposed to know - most likely by osmosis, or some other telepathic means, because (heaven forbid) you wouldn't want to ask a "stupid" question at some Art World function. (Well, you might, but I wouldn't. At least, not ever again.)
Anyway, the answer is divinely simple. Contemporary just means "art that has been and continues to be created during our lifetimes". In other words, contemporary to us.
Now, of course, if you are 96-years old and reading this (By the way, congratulations, if this describes you. Way to keep up with the times!), you can expect a certain amount of overlapping between "Contemporary" and "Modern" art in your lifetime. A good rule of thumb is:
Modern Art: Art from the Impressionists (say, around 1880) up until the 1960's or 70's.
Contemporary Art: Art from the 1960's or 70's up until this very minute.
Here at About Art History, 1970 is the cut-off point for two reasons. First, because it was around 1970 that the terms "Postmodern" and "Postmodernism" popped up - meaning, we must assume, that the Art World had had its fill of Modern Art starting right then.
Secondly, 1970 seems to be the last bastion of easily classified artistic movements. If you look at the outline of Modern Art, and compare it to the outline of Contemporary Art, you'll quickly notice that there are far more entries on the former page. This, in spite of the fact that Contemporary Art enjoys far more working artists making far more art. (It may be that Contemporary artists are mostly working in "movements" that cannot be classified, due to there being around ten artists in any given "movement", none of which have shot off an email saying that there's a new "movement" and "could you please tell others?")
On a more serious note, while it may be hard to classify emergent movements, Contemporary art - collectively - is much more socially conscious than any previous era has been. A whole lot of art from the last 30 years has been connected with one issue or another: feminism, multiculturalism, globalization, bio-engineering and AIDS awareness all come readily to mind as subject matter.
So, there you have it. Contemporary art runs from (roughly) 1970 until now. We won't have to worry about shifting an arbitrary point on the art timeline for another decade, at least. Go, be of good cheer, and fear not the term "Contemporary Art".
Since World War Two, art movements have included Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Post-modernism, Minimalism and Feminist art. Characterized by no real common ground, contemporary art offers a wide range of styles.
A merger of surrealism and expressionism created Abstract Expressionism, with a move away from the personal towards monumental and heroic scales of work. Abstract Expressionism is not the same as early 20th century Expressionism in Europe. Abstract Expressionism as a term began "at the end of World War One to refer to Kandinsky and other Europeans who painted abstractly with expressionist brushwork".
Abstract Expressionism flourished in the 1940s and 1950s America and is sometimes referred to as the New York School. The artists involved resisted a definition as a cohesive style as they were very interested in achieving a distinctive personal style. Their common link was a "concern with varying degrees of abstraction used to convey strong emotional or expressive content". The Abstract Expressionists were a dynamic group with a diversity of style and it has been said that the works of the Abstract Expressionists "acted in the gap between meaning and words". An expressive quality could possibly be that link.
Robert Motherwell was probably the most intellectual of all the Abstract Expressionists, and in a sense was a chronicler of them as he gave them a voice. He tells us that the Abstract Expressionists totally disregarded the Renaissance tradition and their immediate goal was to create an art that was equal to European modern art. The influence of surrealism was chiefly in terms of its methodology, specifically its automatic technique and its use of chance elements. Motherwell calls attention to the qualities of truth and authenticity both of which he says the Abstract Expressionists sought, for it is these qualities that are at the root of American modern painting.
Abstraction means "to take from" and its function for the Abstract Expressionists was to emphasize the essence of an object or idea. The nature of abstraction was not really understood, even by the painters themselves, but they just strove to get rid of much of reality. This group wanted to express human feeling in any way possible, not necessarily through a specific subject matter.
Jackson Pollock was interested in the universal notions of the collective conscious and was also interested in the primitive imagery of Native Americans. He used, and is well known for his use of, the dripping and pouring technique. To him, the process was much more important than the finished work. In this way, thoughts turning into meaning on paper was much more significant than the end result. With the new notion of space, the individual was more important than the collective, and the artist's hand prints throughout make Pollock's mark, while connecting his desired meanings and words.