The Origin of Contemporary Art

      What is contemporary art? Most foreign art institutions define the art after World War II as contemporary art. Specifically, the so-called contemporary art refers to art since 1945. If “contemporary” is defined in terms of time, we can regard Chinese art after 1949 as Chinese contemporary art. However, some domestic critics seem to prefer to regard Chinese art since the 1980s as Chinese contemporary art, just like some Western critics preferring to regard Western art since the 1960s as Western contemporary art. Contemporary art actually refers to art styles like abstract expressionism, pop, minimalism, post-modernism, etc. And installation, performance, video and art types alike are also included. In this sense, “contemporary art” has a connotation of partisanship or collectivity.

      The Relationship between Contemporary Art and Photography

      The complexity and uproar of contemporary art is closely related to the change of our times. Nowadays, we have entered a digital age; and all traditional art forms (including music, sculpture, art, photography, etc.) are being transformed by digital technology, as well as being unified and integrated. We can almost add a new property, “fusion” to today’s contemporary art. Contemporary art is like a big melting pot; first, it uses photography to keep absorbing the strength of the mass, and then it uses the absorbed strength to transform photography. Photography is one of the core influential media to contemporary art. It is extended from the analysis of picturesque conception and documentary tradition, from the analogy analysis of film and digital technology, from the technological changes of photography itself, and from angles of population changes and concept changes. In terms of contemporary art, the changing origin of photography comes from the mass strength which was formed through technical improvement. And this strength is built together by the ability of the new digital photography technology and conception liberation. The wide intervention of contemporary art to photography helps it liberate its unipolar tradition, thus becoming enriched (photography did the same to contemporary art). Looking from a historical point of view, any tendency to make photography unipolar and conventional is a serious damage to it. The main problem of professional photography in contemporary art is that the word “professional” represents “single” or “isolate”; comparatively, the “specialized” technology in tradition concept is dispelling. Professional photography needs to encourage and accept more forms and ideas, and to learn and absorb the merits of different professionals. Using the natural cooperative advantage of photography and digital technology to capture the creation platform, professional photography can review its history, keeping the quintessence while discarding the dross, and then decide its own future.

      Nativeness Condition

      As to Chongqing, it has a broad talent pool for photography. There are thousands of photography amateurs, thousands of members in Chongqing Photographers Association, and dozens of photography clubs. As a bridgehead for the development of Chinese contemporary art, Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts provides a good academic support. In this fertile soil,Chongqing’s contemporary photographic art will have a rapid development. The establishment of Contemporary Art Professional Committee of Chongqing Photographers Association remarks the founding of the first official art committee on contemporary photography. It is committed to unite the photography strength in all aspects ofChongqing, to promote the development of contemporary photography inChongqing, and to provide a platform forChongqing’s photographers to display, communicate and promote.

      Tracing back the history of Chinese photography, in a long period of time, creation is based on documentary methods. The establishment of the column will show people that contemporary photography also pays attention to the theme exploration and frame conception. The penetration of various literary trends and revolutionary painting art to contemporary photography can also be revealed. And it is conducive to expand the exploration range of contemporary photography to attract more photographers’ attention to contemporary art, enhancing their artistic accomplishments from the perspective of technology and conception. Moreover, the opening of this column will helpChongqingintegrate its quintessential urban cultural resources, improve the quality of its urban culture, enhance the overall competitiveness, and go beyond the history of this mountain city to build an image of a new international city. Under the government’s leadership, the Committeewill combine the efforts of social participation and civil society groups, and develop its overall characteristics of being international, popular, innovative and compatible. Through the founding of the Committee,Chongqingwill bring in new international photographer teams and international contemporary photography concepts, leading the overall development of cultural creative industries.

      July 2, 2009 at Huangjueping

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