Chronology MMoCA Collects


Contemporary Art (1970–present)

Contemporary art had its beginnings in the early 1970s, resulting in part from a general challenge to the authority of state and cultural institutions dominated by men and exclusivist policies. Contemporary art, also identified with the term postmodernist art, has been in many ways a continuation of the ideals of modern art—its themes, styles, and most importantly, the concept of the work of art as private expression. The contemporary work of art, however, tends to be more confessional and autobiographical as it explores personal identity in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity. There has also been no simple chronological or linear progression of styles and art movements that marked modern art. Artists and art writers have placed a new premium on the acceptance of a diversity of styles and outlooks. A new pluralism characterizes contemporary art.

Oil painting has sustained its importance in the contemporary tradition but is perceived as traditional. Critical recognition of photography, sculpture, the print, and new media and formats—such as video art, electronic-based media, and installation art—challenged the high status oil painting held in the modern tradition.

In the wake of the social reforms of the 1960s, women gained greater recognition in the marketplace and cultural institutions. This new standing for women artists reflected western culture's changing attitudes to the roles of women in society. It also helped pave the way for the inclusion and economic viability of artists of color, non-European ethnicity, and divergent sexual orientations.