The History of Contemporary Art

Through contemporary art, we are presented with a window into the past like no other; it offers an insight into the moods and feelings of a given period of time. While some look to books and music for such an insight, art captures the mood and feelings of its subjects in a truly unique way. 

As technologies and the world has evolved, so have the tools and techniques seen used in contemporary art. By studying and learning to appreciate this artistic style, one is able to appreciate the evolution not only of art, but of the world itself. For anyone interested in the make-up of the world we live in today, an understanding of contemporary art is simply crucial.

What Does Contemporary Art Add?

Contemporary art is a style of art that stretches from the recent past to the current period; it is well and truly the 'art of today’.  The suggested origins of this term vary somewhat, as well as what work is included, but it typically encompasses the late 20th century to the early 21st century. Different from the narrower genres of expressionism, urban, and Rococo art, the contemporary title can apply to a broad range of styles and sub-categories. 

Like all the genres before it, contemporary art gives a voice to artists and allows them to express and comment on the current issues of life, whether they are making political or cultural statements, capturing everyday moments, or shining a light on the joys of modern life.

There is no one goal when it comes to contemporary art. The artist's origins often play a part in their output and the message their work conveys.  In previous eras, devotions to gods, royals, and paying benefactors influenced or limited artworks, but today we see a wide range of artists who simply make art about themselves and their surroundings. The modern era has also allowed art to become a common feature in any person’s home, no matter what class, race, religion, or generation they may consider themselves. Art is no longer as exclusive as it once was, making contemporary styles far more diverse. 

Three artists in our galleries reflect this widening range of approaches; Doug Hyde, Jennifer Hogwood, and Rebecca Lardner are all contemporary artists widely regarded for their individual, expressive manners. Trent Galleries features art from all three for you to appreciate. Below, we have listed some examples of each artist's work and an accompanying overview of their styles.

Doug Hyde

An image of Doug Hyde, a very popular contemporary artist

Quoted in The Courier, Doug said: “With so much going on in the world which is anything but good at the moment, it’s important to try and get a mood boost from the people and things which are close to you”. This sentiment is evident in his work, with the famous human figures and animals appreciating ideas like ‘memories’ and ‘family’.  Love hearts, biscuits, and sweets are also featured in his collections.

Working with sculptures, such as ‘Life is Sweet’, and pastels like ‘You’ve Stolen my Heart’, Doug has become one of the best selling artists in the UK, hailed as "the most popular living artist in the UK" by the BBC.  His rise to becoming one of the best loved contemporary artists from being unknown has been meteoric, going from strength to strength in a relatively short space of time.

Jennifer Hogwood

A picture of contemporary artist, Jennifer Hogwood

You may recognise Jennifer Hogwood’s signature highland cows (known as ‘The McMoos’) from greeting cards or her paintings; they have become a firm favourite of many critics and art lovers. Her use of diamond dust means that her pieces always have a sparkle, and the animals have a sense of innocence and peace about them. No doubt this is helped by the working farm near Hogwood’s studio. Having a field of sheep outside her window must serve for a great boost of inspiration.

In an interview, Hogwood stated that animals “have such individual personalities and a lovely innocence about them. The other major influence on my work is my children. The playful elements come from being with them, seeing how they react to things and their imaginations. I love their way of looking at life.”

Again this love for animals and the playful nature she witnesses in her children are very much evident in her pieces of contemporary art.  Hogwood seeks to make collector’s’ “hearts skip a beat when they see one of my paintings. I want them to feel the emotion I feel when I see a pod of dolphins”.  Take a look at work such as ‘Share the Love’ if you want to confirm this has been achieved.

Rebecca Lardner

Contemporary seascape artist, Rebecca Lardner

Contemporary seascape artist Rebecca Lardner focuses her artwork on the ‘ceaseless activity’ of the coast. Lardner focuses on places and people that fascinate her, and indeed, looking at her pieces you can become lost in the hub of activity and colour. Trent Galleries have a number of her works available such as the aptly named Pigeon Parade, or Shore Thing.  Most of Lardner’s pieces have a signature palette of sea colours, blues and greens that make you long for the wash of the ocean and gritty sand underfoot.

With Lardner’s work on your wall, you’re only one glance away from the salty ocean breeze and hustle and bustle of the streets of the coastal towns. 

Trent Galleries

If you are interested in one of the artists mentioned here, or simply need some help finding the perfect picture for your dining area or conference room, Trent Galleries have specialist staff who will be sure to help you with your collection. Simply get in touch through our contact form

We have galleries in Oakham, Newark and Beverley, which you can visit to see these pieces for yourself. Be sure to also give us a follow on Facebook for more updates on our collections and galleries.