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What is Contemporary Art?

 Generally refers to art being created now. It is the catch-all phrase ascribed to the art of recent
times and of today. “Contemporary” is derived from the Latin prefix con, which means “to-
gether” or “with”, plus tempus, which means time.
 Art is constantly changing and continuously reinventing itself. Experimentation with new me-
dia and novel methodology of new creation is an obsession of contemporary art to remain
current. It questions the old hierarchies and categories of art in order to break it.
 The chronological view defines contemporary art as related to this current period in art his-
tory, and refers to art that is new, recent, modern, or pertains to the present moment. It is the
“art produced in our era or lifetime”
 The historical usage, meanwhile, regards contemporary art as a specific episode or stage in
the story of the evolution of art, referring to a specific location in space and time.
 In the standard periodization of art history across the globe, contemporary art is placed in
the following years:
o Arts produced after 1945
 Adhered by most museums when defining their collections of contemporary
artworks. The year 1945 was taken as a key turning point in Euro-American
history, when after WWII there was a shift of political, cultural, and economic
power from Europe to the United States which marked the end of European
o Arts produced since 1960s
 One of the most commonly used by art critics due to the emergence at this
time of a new generation of artists who were overturning the Modernist prac-
tice. However, disagreement persists as to the exact cut-off date.
 After all, artists across the globe did not just wake up one day and instantly became Postmod-
ernists. The year 1970 is taken as the cut-off date, because by then the transition has reached
its completion.

What is Modern Art?

 Refers to art theory and practice, predominantly in Western Europe and North America, from
the 1860s to the late 1960s – the period characterized by significant social, cultural, techno-
logical, and political developments in the western world.
 Industrialization, urbanization, new technology, the rise of the middle class, the seculariza-
tion of the society, and the emergence of a consumer culture resulted in new conditions
where art was created, exhibited, discussed, and collected.
 Modernism rejected former cultural values and conventions in favour of innovation, experi-
mentation, and digression from established norms. It was a time when traditions were chal-
lenged and eventually broken to establish a new order.
 Modernism encompassed a revolutionary aesthetic canon and a scientific doctrine in art and
architecture originating in Europe between the two World Wars in the 20th century. It em-
braced several intellectual and artistic movements, which included impressionism, symbol-
ism, cubism, futurism, art nouveau, imagism, international style and so on.

Contemporary Arts in the Philippines

 Emerged in reaction to social and cultural realities during the 1970s.
 An era of repression and censorship of artistic expressions.
 President Ferdinand Marcos seized state power through the imposition of Martial Law in the
early 1970s.
 Defined by a system which trained aspiring artists under the tutelage of more established
ones; oriented many young artists to Western artistic traditions, to the detriment of local art-
 Social Realism is an art movement which sought to expose the real condition of the Philippine
society and used art to transform it.
 Progressive art as a whole, whether in the visual arts, music, theater, dance or literature in
Manila and in the countryside developed a culture that would convey the authentic aspira-
tions of the Filipino people.
 The end of Martial Law in the wake of the EDSA People Power revolution in 1968 brought the
Philippines into the contemporary period.
 Contemporary art emerged due to three factors:
o The return of democracy under the Aquino government;
o The improved economic and political environment in the country, particularly in the
regions; and
o The advent of new technologies and free access to media.
 The production and dissemination of art was no longer under the patronage of a single polit-
ical figure like Imelda Marcos who dispensed her Classicist ideal of art as “the true, the good,
and the beautiful” via the state apparatuses of culture.

Functions of Contemporary Art

 Contemporary Art is a form of response to the world – a way of making sense of the realities
of the day. It is an attempt to capture an aspect of the contemporary world and draw attention
to it, comment on it, present a surprising or fresh angle on it, represent it for the sake of ex-
ploring something about it, or enjoy and celebrate it.
 The art of today is made with different motivations from the mere self-expression to fuelling
the creative industries. Fundamentally, the agenda of their creation may provide certain func-
tions or express a combination of purposes.
o Contemporary Art for Pleasure – Art can escape from everyday concerns and sat-
isfy the yearning for pleasurable experiences. We need delight, enjoyment, pleasure
and decoration in our lives to elevate our everyday existence. Visual delight in a work
of art can take many forms, including an appreciation of beauty or decoration, or de-
light in an element of surprise. Aesthetics refers to an awareness of beauty or to that
quality in a work of art or other manmade or natural form which evokes a sense of
elevated awareness to the viewers. The decoration of useful objects is another source
of delight, and a decorative urge has motivated a great deal of creativity throughout
o Contemporary Art as Profession – Artists earn living through their art. Art has eco-
nomic value and gains currency in a network of exchange. Art and creative ideas are
never free.
o Contemporary Art as Commentary – Art has often been used to answer our need
for information. Before the advent of photography, artists and illustrators were our
only source of information about the visual appearance of anything. By providing a
visual accounts of an event or a person, or by expressing an opinion, artists have
shaped not only the way people understand their own world, but also how their cul-
ture is viewed by others.
o Contemporary Art as Spirituality – Artists may create art to express spiritual be-
liefs about the destiny of life controlled by the force of a higher power. Art reinforce
the shared beliefs of an individual or a community finding its way through sacred rit-
uals, places and ceremonies.
o Contemporary Art as Remembrance – Remembrance is something done as an aid
to memory. Commemoration is sometimes personal, as we each hold memories of
events and people important in our lives. But commemoration is more often a public
act, perhaps celebrating a significant person or event, or honouring patriotic actions.
o Contemporary Art for Persuasion – Many art forms have persuasive and ideological
function. Art is used to spur change.
o Art as Self-Expression – Art fulfils an expressive function when an artist conveys
information about his or her personality, feelings, or worldview.

Categories of Art
 Fine Art is a Western category refined objects considered to be among the supreme cultural
achievements of the human civilization. It transcend average human works may be produced
by only the best artists with unique sensibilities and academic training. This includes paint-
ing, sculpture, and architecture in the early and mid-nineteenth century in Western industri-
alized nations. It was heavily influenced by Greek, Roman, and Italian Renaissance art.
 Popular Art is the product of popular culture which appeals to a broad mass audience. It
circulates in magazines, comics, television shows, advertising, folk art, tattoos, video games,
posters, websites, calendars, greeting cards, dolls, souvenirs, toys, movies, pop song, and
snapshots and commercial photography.
 Craft refers to specific media, including ceramics, glass, jewellery, weaving and woodwork-
ing. It usually involves making objects rather than images, although it may involve surface

Medium-based Classification of Art Forms

 In terms of form and medium, we can classify contemporary art as:
o Visual arts – classified as two dimensional arts (painting, mixed media, graphic arts)
and three-dimensional arts (sculpture, jewellery, furniture, monuments.)
o Architecture – religious, residential, industrial, commercial
o Music – folk, indigenous, popular, conservatory, independent
o Dance – ballet, folk, indigenous, street, modern, popular
o Theater – street, school, ritual, sectoral, travelling, puppet
o Cinema – mainstream, short film in feature, experimental, documentary, indie

National Artists for Tangible Arts

Visual Arts
 Fernando Amorsolo – (May 30, 1892 – April 24, 1972) though born in Paco, Manila, he spent
the first 13 years of his life in Daet, Camarines Norte. He then became a working student,
studying the styles of Spanish painters Diego de Velasquez and other European masters, and
graduated with honors at the School of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines in 1914.
Amorsolo was a classical realist who masterfully painted rural scenes with farmers, maidens
and children, full of serenity, charm, joy and pure native sentiment, rendered in backlit chia-
roscuro of Philippine sunlit colors.
Man with Cockerel. Fernando Amorsolo

Our Lady of Light. Fernando Amorsolo

 Ang Kiukok – (March 1, 1931 – May 9, 2005) was born to immigrant Chinese parents in Da-
vao. He studied at the University of Santo Tomas where he was taught by Victorio Edades,
Diosdado Lorenzo, Francesco Monti, and Galo Ocampo. He was a Neo-realist who developed
his pictorial style into a universal figurative expressionism. The human condition, its deepest
despair and suffering, consistently inspired him. He articulated tension, pain and catharsis
through a painterly system of perfect distortion. This he did by reconstructing human, animal
and machine forms then rebuilding them into unsettling pictures of pain, torture and dehu-

Crucifixion. Ang Kiukok Dogfight. Ang Kiukok

 Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco - (November 4, 1912- March 31, 1969) studied at the UP
School of Fine Arts. Before the Second World War, he worked as an illustrator for the publi-
cations: Tribune, and La Vanguardia, and was set designer at the Manila Grand Opera House
and the Clover Theater. After the war, he taught Fine Arts at the University of Sto. Tomas. In
1948, he won the grand prize at the first National Exhibition of the Art Association of the
Philippines. Myths and legends that Angono folks knew inspired him such as MAlakas at MA-
ganda, and Maria Makiling. Botong became the most prominent muralist in the country.
 Abdulmari Asia Imao – (January 14, 1936- December 16, 2014) was born in the Siasi Island
of Sulu. He graduated high school in 1956, the year when the Philippine Navy Floating Art
Exhibit docked in Jolo. It featured the paintings of Fernando Amorsolo, Carlos “Botong” Fran-
cisco, and Vicente Manansala, curated and hosted by the painter-sculptor Tomas Bernardo.
He was a sculptor and painter who brought the culture of Muslim Mindanao to a modern na-
tional consciousness. He did this by his use of indigenous motifs of Ukkil, Sarimanok and Naga
in his paintings and bronze and brass sculptures.
 Cesar P. Legaspi – (April 2, 1914- April 7, 1944) studied painting and advertising arts in UP
School of Fine Arts where he received medals for perspective and illustration projects, and
earned Certificate of Proficiency in 1936. He reconstructed cubism’s cold geometric order
into composition of figures rendered in rock like figurations in rhythmic cadence. As one of
the pioneering neo-realists, Legaspi painted this quieting torments and suffering.
 Vicente Manansala – (January 22, 1910- August 22, 1981) was born in Macabebe, Pampanga.
His family moved to Intramuros, Manila where he learned to earn his keep by delivering
newspaper and shining shoes. The young artist painted movie posters and advertisements
for a living. He graduated at the UP School of Fine Arts in 1930. Manansala was one of the
Thirteen Moderns. He was the neo-realist who imbued its cubistic attitude with a masterful
build-up of interlocking and overlapping layers of translucent tones.

Madonna and Child. Vicente Manansala

Man, Girl and Cock. Vicente Manansala

Bird Seller. Vicente Manansala
Candle Vendor. Vicente Manansala

 Virgilio S. Almario – (March 9, 1944) most probably referred to as Rio Alma, a poet lit-
erary historian and critic who revived and reinvented traditional Filipino poetic forms.
He put a face to the Filipino writer in the country, one determinedly wielding a pen
against untruths, hypocrisy and injustice. He started his career as an educator when he
taught Social Studies at San Miguel High School. It was when he took up units in M.A in
Education at the University of the East. He translated various works including the con-
temporary poetry of Nick Joaquin, Bertolt Brecht, and Maxim Gorki. He also translated
novels written by Jose Rizal, Jose Corazon de Jesus, Lope K. Santos, Alfredo Navarro Sa-
langa, and Pedro Dandan. He has been part of the pool of teachers of the UP Writer’s
Workshop, Director of the UP Centro of Wikang Filipino, Dean of College of Arts and Let-
ters, Editor-in-Chief of the UP Diksyonaryong Filipino, and Chairman of the Komisyon ng
Wikang Filipino. He was executive director of the National Commission for Culture and
the Arts (1998-2001) and was appointed Chairman of the said institution in 2017.
 Nick Joaquin – (May 4, 1917- April 29, 2004) the greatest Filipino writer in English of
the 20th Century. He was also a veteran journalist who wrote under the pseudonym Qui-
jano de Manila. Regardless of genre, Joaquin wrote with highest skill and quality. After
World War II, his essay ”La Naval de Manila” won for him a prize and scholarship at St.
Albert’s Monastery in Hong Kong. Joaquin was awarded Associate of Arts by the Pontifical
and Royal University of Sto. Tomas. Joaquin was also lauded for writing the historio-
graphic metafictions: The Woman Who Has Two Navels (1961), and Cave and Shadows
 F. Sionil Jose – (December 3, 1924) born in Rosales, Pangasinan. He later enrolled at the
University of Sto. Tomas where he became the Editor-in-Chief of the university’s newspa-
per, The Varsitarian. He was the founder of the Philippine Branch of PEN International,
the oldest international literary organization of poets, playwrights, essayists and novel-
ists. He is known for imbuing his works with a consciousness of class struggle and colonial
experience in the country.
 NVM Gonzales – (September 8, 1915- November 28, 1999) was a fictionist, essayist, poet
and teacher who articulated the Filipino spirit in rural and urban landscapes.
 Amado V. Hernandez – (September 13, 1903- May 24, 1970) a poet, novelist, playwright,
fictionist and labor leader who was well known for his advocacy for exposing social in-
justice and pushing for freedom and independence from neo-colonial rule. His literary
sensibility was shaped by his involvement in literary circles such as the Aklatang Bayan
where he worked with the likes of Lope K. Santos, Valeriano Hernandez-Peña, Iñigo Ed.
Regalado, and Julian Cruz Balmaceda. It was his prison ordeal and his involvement in the
labor movement and the guerrilla movement which provided mush motivation for his
poems, short stories, novels and plays. Among his famous poems were Isang Dipang
Langit (1961), Bayang Malaya (1969), Panata sa Kalayaan, Bartolina, Kung Tuyo na ang
Luha Mo Aking Bayan. His well-known novels include Mga Ibong Mandaragit (1969), and
Luha ng Buwaya (1972). His notable plays include Muntinlupa (1958), and Magkabilang
Mukha ng Isang Bagol (1961).