Art Term

Collective

Loosely defined, an art collective is a group of artists working together to achieve a common objective

COBRA members bringing their work to First International Exhibition of Experimental Artists, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, November 1949

Artists working within a collective are united by shared ideologies, aesthetics and, or, political beliefs.

In the early modern period, there were roughly two forms of art collective. Those who sought to bring about social change by cultural means like the futurists. They looked towards the future where they envisioned a radically new way of life. Others, like the dada artists, represented the psychological consequences of the loss of a pre-modern existence and reflected that in their art. They spoke for a collective group, in this case those mentally and physically scarred by the First World War.

Today, thanks to social media, art collectives have an extraordinary global reach, giving them the power to bring about change through direct action. Collectives today are about the present and how they can change society in the here and now.