Classic or Contemporary?

art then, art now


In class today we compared classic and contemporary art, using a venn diagram to find the differences. Then, Ms. Fernie opened the question up to us: “Is classic or contemporary art more important to you as an artist?”

My first thought was that that’s a hard question. Many of my favourite artists are contemporary, like Frida Kahlo, Claude Monet, Gustav Klimt, Van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock, but at the same time this infatuation with surrealist, impressionist, and abstract art hasn’t been around long. It was only after trying to expand my horizons in IB Art that I really got into the contemporary, and before that I was more into realism.

Now, I tend to mix the elements from classic art with elements from contemporary art. For instance, I’m a nut for realistic anatomy. Katsushika Hokusai, an ancient mangaka is also a great influence for me, although he’s on the verge of being contemporary.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are elements of both classic and contemporary art that shine through in my work. Realistic people, portraits, and anatomy are in sync with the classic movement, but abstract backgrounds with a variety of mixed media go along with the contemporary movement. Both are important to me, and I hope that shines through in my artwork.

What about you? What do you think?


Ai Wei Wei and Art as Social Change

Last week our IB Art class watched some videos about Ai Wei Wei. Recently after making a mass order of Lego pieces for his new piece, the contemporary artist was denied access to the materials by Lego. According to the company, they avoid “actively engaging in or endorsing the use of Lego bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda.” Ai Wei Wei, who is possibly the most controversial contemporary artist in the world today, certainly fits into this restriction.

Nevertheless, Wei Wei is not giving up on his project. Instead, he’s now accepting donation of Lego bricks from all over the world. Just because a major corporation told him, “no”, it doesn’t mean he’s going to stop, because according to Wei Wei it is an artist’s duty to show their feelings through his work.

In my opinion, showing your feelings through artwork is what it’s all about. Whether those feelings are controversial, emotional, thought provoking, or anything else, art is there for you to express what you would otherwise keep inside. For me, that is what my entire exhibition is about, sharing my feelings through art, especially ones that I don’t share in any other way. Art is a medium that is there for you to display your thoughts to the world.

But sometimes displaying those thoughts are hard. Take Ai Wei Wei for example, who has been incarcerated for opposing the government through his artwork. Another artist like this is Honore Daumier, the “Michelangelo of caricatures”. He published a caricature of the king of France, Louis Phillippe, and portrayed him as a giant named Gargantua. Because of this social commentary, Daumier was imprisoned for six months.


Gargantua by Honore Daumier, 1831

The moral of this story? Even if you know that your thoughts will cause controversy, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t speak your mind. As an artist, you can’t be afraid of criticism or punishment. Art has the power to change the world, but you have to let it.