Ever since I’ve become involved in the subject of art a few years ago, I’ve had my fair share of reading about various articles regarding the difference between traditional and contemporary art. Most people who talk about this topic haven’t done any research beforehand. Indeed, the difference between these two divisions of art lies in the eyes of the beholder. In California, people are obsessed with contemporary art. I personally think it’s quite overrated. I am not trying to say that contemporary art is not beautiful. Just to clarify, we are not talking about graphic design here. However, in my humble opinion, Americans have a bland taste of appreciating the craft and skill of artists. I do not wish to talk about specific artists or art dealers who create or buy this art. Please keep in mind that you should be taking all of what I’m about to discuss here with a grain of salt. Also, I believe that liking contemporary art doesn’t necessarily make a person look cool. In fact, contemporary is a simple word which people have created a certain notion of facade enveloping it and made it seem more important than what it really is. I think that it’s best to judge art by how it was made and the factors that were involved in creating it. The most essential aspect of art is what it conveys and communicates. Think of it this way, while the physical appearance of art could possibly start a relationship, it would only last if there is much more than its superficial appearance.
Some writers have traced the roots of art back to the 12th century. Some believe that traditional art originated from the Renaissance era. A few others believe that traditional art talks about the traditional forms of art such as pottery, painting and drawing. In my point of view, all of those definitions are only based on people’s desire to promote their own opinion. Professional European writers believe that it all originated from their roots. Craftsmen always try to take hostage of the word traditional for their own benefit. These days, nobody ever talks about the real definition of traditional art anymore. When we look back in history, the Greeks and Romans have both created some traditional art. However, according to the little research I have made regarding this subject, it appears that traditional art could’ve possibly originated from Muslims.
Their efforts brought about the primary definition of traditional art. There could probably be a major Christian or Jewish influence as well but I have very restricted knowledge regarding that. So I decided to focus on Islamic examples instead. Back in the day, traditional art has always been related to sacredness. Its ultimate goal was to create harmony and beauty which is offered to God using human’s own labor. Ultimately, this means that the origins of traditional art shows that it was created for a different purpose. It wasn’t made to promote the artist or his ego. In contrast, the artist needs to set aside his ego and build something extraordinary and beautiful. It was never aimed to focus on just one specific person. Traditional art focuses on the depiction of a certain subject and was offered to God. This is why portraits would never be considered traditional art. In Persian and Indian paintings, you would always see a depiction of a scene in great depth and detail. It is never focused on just a single person.
Contemporary Art has a different purpose. It is mainly focused on how the person feels, his thoughts and what he wants to portray. In contrast to traditional art, contemporary art is focused on the artist himself. Its most common examples are portraits of people the artist admires and abstract paintings. I didn’t want to make it seem that there should be a clear distinction between the two. There are plenty of artists who use both traditional and contemporary art in their work and the results are outstanding. Art is interpreted differently by different people. Although the real difference between them would always be open for discussion, for now this is how I see it.