"Here and Now: A Survey on New Contemporary Art": Fort Wayne Museum of Art

14 March - 30 August 2020
Overview

Contemporary art, if it is to mean anything beyond simply art that has been made
recently, must speak to the here and now. It doesn’t need to smell of fresh paint, but of
fresh ideas and sensibilities. We’re well past Modernism by now; there is no easy
succession of the new to guide us. Sure, it’s confusing. There isn’t any single style or
set of ideas, but rather a plurality of possibilities. One effect of this multi-directionality
and pluralism in current art practices, which is in fact something of an inheritance from
the Modernist era, is that we have a certain permission now to view anything as art and
art as everything. We are a culture of cultures, mainstream and underground, self-
referential and ahistorical, commonplace and extraordinary, personal and social, and in
all this embracing a diversity that was unimaginable a generation ago. The present
doesn’t need more connoisseurs, it needs cartographers able to map a constantly
shifting landscape.


For all the value of the past, which predicates and powers the present, you don’t
typically expect to see kids getting together in the garage to compose symphonies or
write in Shakespearean English. However, each generation develops its own cultural
idioms, creating new iterations of greatness with the passage of time. These young
artists and creators may not sound like Shakespeare, but they, like him, capture the
essence of their culture. When art by and large functions in this world at some place
between personal self-expression and its capacity to communicate to a larger
audience, it will reflect this conversation in contemporary terms. The art of here and
now must be more than historical pastiche – it has to talk to us in the visual language
of our day. In it we expect more than a passing glance at what the art world cares
about at the moment. We need it to provide a meaningful insight into the ideas, issues,
influences and experiences we all have in common, but likely don’t share as much as
we should. There is plenty of room for the obscure, arcane, and obsolete, but it rarely
serves contemporary art or its contemporary audience well. The art world is
exceptionally good at presenting the emperor’s new clothes, but sometimes we just
want the naked truth.


With all this in mind, Here and Now: A Survey of New Contemporary Art is about the kind
of art that not only speaks to the present but also does so within the vox populi, as a
common language of common concerns. This is a vernacular art, not so hung up on
the rarified, coded and sophisticated pretenses of what fine art is supposed to look like.
It comes from an urgency that hasn’t the guile to be so polite. Here is an art that comes
from the streets, from the music, fashion, and politics of youth culture. It is savvy,
sharp, impatient, iconoclastic, irreverent, DIY, and delirious. It’s the kind of tongue in
cheek, heart in hand, punch to the gut that we don’t get often enough when we go to a
museum. And while these artists enjoy their own careers in the art world, their scope
and interests far exceed the limits of such ratification. Working with and within popular
culture, these artists aren’t simply relating our world to us, they are defining and even
changing it. Sure, they’re successful. They have exhibitions, gallery representation,
and collectors just like the big-name artists enjoy, but they have something more than
even the most famous of those artists: real fans. We hope you’ll feel the same way.

 

Carlo McCormick is an American culture critic and curator living in New York City. He is
the author of numerous books, monographs and catalogues on contemporary art and
artists. McCormick lectures and teaches extensively at universities and colleges
around the United States on popular culture and art. His writing has appeared in
Effects : Magazine for New Art Theory, Aperture, Art in America, Art News, Artforum,
Camera Austria, High Times, Spin, Tokion, Vice and other magazines. McCormick was
Senior Editor of Paper.


Here and Now: A Survey on New Contemporary Art is organized by Josef Zimmerman,
Curator of Contemporary Art at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and Ken Harman,
Director and Head Curator at Hashimoto Contemporary.

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