If you look up the word contemporary, it will reveal that the word means currently. However, it may go on to say that it is something current but also popular. It can also denote someone or something that has the same interests, advocacies and professions even. These people are considered contemporaries of one another. However, it is when this term is applied to art that it really becomes ambiguous, and I am sure when the contemporary art movement kicked off that it understood the ambiguity of the term, and that is one reason they utilized it to label their form of art. The form began in the late 1950’s. This era is also called the modern era, and it can be said that the relation to the term modern also played into the choosing of the term contemporary. However, the terms really have the same issues. They both denote modernity, but their forms are far from being modern today.
This brings us to the issue of whether or not current art is contemporary art, or is the art of that long gone time considered contemporary art still? In my opinion as an art teacher, the art of the late 1950’s through approximately the 1970’s whose artists and patrons considered it contemporary art is contemporary art. I have this argument with my students because they are too cool to label their movement, but continuously whine about the lack of cohesiveness in their peer group or the transcendent positive media that art movements get when the movements are labeled. Labels have many more positives than negatives. In fact, the only negative that I can find is that labels are not cool to these young artists. However, what they do not understand is that if you do not choose a label, a label will be given simply by the people that view, purchase and review the art.
An additional negative to being given a name instead of instituting one is that these connoisseurs and critics of the art are often giving these names to movements whose artists have long since been deceased. However, posthumous riches does not garner affection from these young artists either. The only advice that I can give to a fickle group such as this is to make sure their art is technically up to par. I have no patience for artist without talent that mask this fact by labeling their art abstract.
This brings to light the genius of contemporary art collector Adam Sender. Sender is an actually a genius investor, and this is proof. Sender quietly collected close to a thousand contemporary art pieces, and just like an investor, he brought them at a time at which he was able to garner the finest pieces in the movement, but at costs that were minimal compared to what he is selling them for. The genius is that his selling of the art consequently generated the interest to make these values not only realistic, but likely to rise.