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What are the 10 forms of contemporary art? 

Contemporary art is more than painting. Today, we have 10 forms of contemporary art. Let’s dive into them.


Painting remains the most popular discipline among contemporary artists. Today, painting is no longer limited to canvases or paper. Modern artists use windows, pavement, garbage cans, cabinet doors, sofas and even living people as a painting surface. Mostly the kind of the underground determines which colors and tools are used. It does not matter whether someone paints with acrylic or pastel colors. Allowed is everything that makes fun and serves the work of art.


If you still believe that photography is not an art form, you should realize that contemporary art is the art of the present. This means that everything that exists in this present may be used. This includes cameras, smartphones, projectors, image editing programs, artificial intelligence and much more. 

While normal photographers limit themselves to classic formats such as wedding and landscape photography and do not allow themselves extreme post-processing of the images, contemporary artists break all boundaries and thereby create unimaginably ingenious works with high collector value. Some project their photos onto sculptures, skyscrapers, and other objects with a projector. Others simply paint on the photos. Still others alienate their images with Adobe Photoshop or Luminar Neo to create amazing fantasy worlds. 

Digital art

Digital art refers to works created exclusively on a computer. The artist paints with a graphics tablet or mouse, software simulates different canvases and brushes. He can also combine several images into a collage, add or remove objects. Using filters, he can distort photos to make them look like paintings or give them a modern cyberpunk look. In most cases, the computer is only supposed to assist the artist or relieve him of tedious routine tasks like removing the background.

The situation is different when the artist uses tools like Stable Diffusion or Midjourney. This makes it possible to create works of art exclusively with the help of programming commands. But is this really art? The answer is yes, because these things are invading our present more and more. They influence our lives and our future. This gives them the right to play a role in contemporary art.

Live Performance

Similar to digital artists, live performance artists also try to break the boundaries of conventional art. They appear masked or integrate themselves into installations. Multimedia theater, body painting and intercultural flash mobs are also part of this art form. Live performance is often politically motivated. It is used to draw attention to problems or to connect people. Artists like Christo cover buildings and monuments. They also make photographs in which thousands of people together form a work of art. The only important thing is that it is live.


In sculpture, contemporary artists use all available materials to model forms and figures. Here, too, all boundaries have long since been broken. Today there are sculptures formed from computer circuit boards, pieces of clothing and even the components of a space shuttle. Particularly unusual sculptures are on display every year at the Burning Man Festival in the USA. It is now considered the mecca of contemporary sculpture.


Contemporary architecture is extremely expressive, sometimes depicting gigantic versions of everyday objects. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Florida, for example, looks like a giant electric guitar. Architectural styles common today, such as American Craftsman and Mid-Century Modern, are crossed with high-tech architecture to create an entirely new living experience. Of course, architecture is also influenced by current political trends. Modern homes must be environmentally friendly and energy efficient. The use of old materials for the construction of super-modern buildings is currently making a comeback. 


Poems have evolved into contemporary spoken poetry. We not only read them, we hear them in rap songs or performed at poetry slams for children and adults. Contemporary poems are often influenced by different cultures. African culture in particular, with its expressive rhythms, is popular. Poems are projected onto sculptures or buildings or combined with photography and painting. Clinging to old traditions? Not at all. 


Literature has long been the stepchild of contemporary art. Publishers are considered extremely risk-averse. They would rather publish the ten-thousandth edition of Goethe’s works than give young, new-thinking authors a chance. This barrier has been broken by the Internet and the associated possibility of self-publishing books. 

The term literature does not designate anything in particular. It only says that it is a written work. Therefore, literature can also be a script for a film or a play. The artist can turn himself into literature by painting the words on his body. Familiar genres such as the crime novel are mixed with other genres or reshaped to create new sub-genres. 

Self-publishing has allowed a new, contemporary art form to emerge from the old one. In the meantime, publishers have also grudgingly accepted this and are slowly but surely adapting to the times. 


Music has always been contemporary art. New styles have been emerging since time immemorial, including rap, punk and techno. The beauty of music is that its universal language connects different cultures. It is also combined with performing and visual art styles. There is even an example of a combination of music and architecture. In Zadar, Croatia, Nikola Bašić created an organ that uses the wave motion of the sea to produce sounds. If a musician does not have suitable instruments at his disposal, he simply uses heating pipes, pots or his own body as an instrument. In no other art form is experimentation so open-hearted and creative.


In dance, there is indeed one insurmountable limit: the human body. Nevertheless, contemporary forms such as break dance, jump style and neo-tango have been developed. Apart from tap dance, there is hardly any dance form that can do without music. Meanwhile, dance is also combined with poems and light shows. 

The 10 disciplines of contemporary art stand alone, but can influence each other. Several disciplines can also form a work of art together. In theater, we see spoken literature and poetry combined with the architecture of the sets. Music and painting are often added. 

Contemporary art must always move with the times. It is obliged to do so as art of the present. Artists like Andy Warhol and David Bowie come and go like waiters in a restaurant. Just as materials, political trends, musical genres and other things do. Only one thing remains: The certainty that there will always be contemporary artists.