Art Term

Contemporary art

The term contemporary art is loosely used to refer to art of the present day and of the relatively recent past, of an innovatory or avant-garde nature

Tracey Emin, ‘Hate and Power Can be a Terrible Thing’ 2004
Tracey Emin
Hate and Power Can be a Terrible Thing 2004
© Tracey Emin

In relation to contemporary art museums, the date of origin for the term ‘contemporary art’ varies.

The Institute of Contemporary Art in London, founded in 1947, champions art from that year onwards. Whereas The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York chooses the later date of 1977. In the 1980s, Tate planned a Museum of Contemporary Art in which contemporary art was defined as art of the past ten years on a rolling basis.

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Tate Papers

Contemporary Art and the Role of Interpretation

Helen Charman and Michaela Ross

Recent research indicates that the taught curriculum in art and design secondary school education pays scant attention to meaning-making in ...

Tate Papers

Placing Bookmarks: The Institutionalisation and De-Institutionalisation of Hungarian Neo-Avant-Garde and Contemporary Art

Maja and Reuben Fowkes

The recent interest in avant-garde art from Hungary shown by international museums such as Tate has been paralleled by transformations ...

Tate Papers

Andrei Tarkovsky and Contemporary Art: Medium and Mediation

Robert Bird

The rediscovery of the Soviet film director Andrei Tarkovsky (1932–1986) as an artist in the cinema allows us to ...


Show Time: Curating contemporary art

What are the exhibitions that truly changed the course of the discipline, provoked public reactions and contributed to a more ...

Selected artworks in the collection