Welcome to the final unit of AP Art History! (cue the round of celebratory applause 👏) Unit 10 is a great way to finish off this course because its works are unlike any that we've seen previously with respect to theme, media (materials) and technique. Unfortunately, though, contemporary art (art made in the second half of the 20th or the 21st century) gets a bad rap from many viewers. However, just because contemporary art may look different than the works that we've studied in earlier units, does not mean that it's a less valid movement. Most of these works are meant to be thought-provoking. They push the boundaries of traditional art forms and challenge viewers to consider the question: "What is art?" Be sure to keep this in mind as we head into the Unit's contextualization and works.
In the late 20th century, technology began to drastically improve as new machines were being created and manufacturing techniques were being perfected. This caused the production of different media to rapidly increase and their manufacturing costs to decrease. Thus making art more accessible to people around the world, regardless of wealth or status. (Before this occurred, most artists, especially from Europe, came from well-to-do families and were educated at private art schools.)
As technology became more advanced over time, artists were also beginning to abandon traditional medias, like oil paint and stucco, for new innovative materials (ex. Mylar). Artists also began to integrate common everyday materials into their artwork (ex. cut paper, glass, and burlap). They began to use technology to their advantage when creating. For example, some of the artists that made the works below incorporated video and audio into their installations (exhibits in a gallery), so the viewer can have more sensory experience, rather than just visual. This is a deviation from works in previous units,
As the world becomes more modernized (adapted for contemporary life; ex. urbanization, industrialization, high literacy rate) and globalized (spreading of cultures worldwide), people are beginning to interact more. This increased communication has allowed artists of different backgrounds to inspire one another and create unique works of art.
The field of art has become more inclusive of artists from different nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds over time. Many of the works in this unit (such as Horn Players and Earth's Creation) were made by artists of color. They also explore more polarizing issues like increasing obesity rates (Pisupo Lua Afe) and toxic masculinity (En la Barberia, No Se Llora). More still needs to be done to make the field entirely accepting of all artists, however, the progress made recently in the field should still be acknowledged.
- Computers and drafting applications like AutoCAD and MicroStation have made planning buildings easier for architects.
- Advancements in technology have allowed architects to create lighter, inexpensive, and more environmentally friendly structures (cough cough Romanesque architecture 🤦♀️)
- Contemporary artists broke rules on traditional materials, shapes, and lighting.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Image Courtesy of Guggenheim Bilbao.
- Many works comment on society (for example, Pink Panther critiques pop culture, commercialism, stereotypes related to blondes, and beauty standards)
- The invention of acrylic paint provided a cheaper, quicker drying alternative to oil paint
- Traditional canvas paintings and marble carving became less popular, although they are still seen
Pink Panther. Image Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.
And that's it! Be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for getting through the entire AP Art History Course. Hopefully, the past 10 Unit Study Guides will help as you study for any exams you have throughout the year and ace the final one in May. Happy studying and good luck! 🎉
|Christo and Jeanne-Claude
|Vietnam Veterans Memorial
|Acrylic and oil paintstick
|Ink on paper
|Resin, burlap, wood, string and nails
|A Book from the Sky
|Untitled (#228), from the History Portraits series
|Dancing at the Louvre, from the series The French Collection, Part I; #1
|Acrylic on canvas, fabric, and tie-dye materials
|Trade (Gifts for Trading Land with White People)
|Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
|Oil paint and mixed media on canvas
|Emily Kame Kngwarreye
|Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
|Rebellious Silence, from the Women of Allah series
|Shirin Neshat and Cynthia Preston
|Ink on photograph
|En la Barberia no se Llora (No Crying Allowed in the Barbershop)
|Pisupo Lua Afe (Corned Beef 2000)
|Nam June Paik
|Mixed-media installation (video, neon, steel, and electronic components)
|Video and sound installation
|Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
|Glass, limestone, and titanium
|Color photograph on glass
|Lying with the Wolf
|Pencil and ink on paper
|Cut paper and projection on wall
|The Swing (after Fragonard)
|Old Man’s Cloth
|Copper wire and aluminum
|Ink and acrylic paint on canvas
|Mixed media on Mylar (a type of polyester film)
|MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts
|Glass, cement, and steel
|Kui Hua Zi (Sunflower Seeds)
|Sculptured and painted porcelain