Aspects of Contemporary Art

Subject: Art
Pages: 5
Words: 1500
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: Bachelor


Many people think of art as something at least a century old and fail to consider the contemporary masterpieces that are being made in the present. However, the art world is flourishing, with the pieces being a reflection of the ever-changing world. Contemporary art is the definition of the present art created in the second half of the 20th century or the 21st century.

Contemporary Art Industry

Explanation of the prevalence of art in the U.S.

The survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau has indicated that in 2017, 53.8 percent of U.S. adults attended a visual or performing arts activity at least once in the past 12 months (National Endowment for the Arts, 2018). Such outcome indicates that the prevalence of American citizens join art initiatives and culturally develop. An overview of a 20-year contemporary art statistic demonstrated that the market had grown 1,800% in 19 years Worldwide, while the United States has faced a 48% increase in modern art by 2019 (The Contemporary Art Market Report, 2019). Thus, the trend on contemporary is rapidly expanding and becoming more prevalent with each year.

The buyers have seen an intensified demand in contemporary art as supply contracts and prices rise. The growth of the modern art market is defined by the rising global trends of art e-commerce emergence, the changes of leading positions in the worldwide art market’s geographical structure, and the transformation of the art market institutions. The explanation to why the current global market may rise is due to a rapid expansion in the industry with the fast emergence of new African artists and a shift to the Chinese market (The Contemporary Art Market Report, 2019). Moreover, contemporary art’s demand is continuously fueled by new artists and unprecedented works, gaining more popularity and revenue each year.

Purchase Motivations

Contemporary art sales have a flexible dynamic and regularly change in favor of one or another style or artist due to the market’s ever-changing nature. There has been a significant increase in popularity for contemporary art in recent years, specifically the artists (The Contemporary Art Market Report, 2019). By following customer patterns, one can identify that the buyers mostly seek a specific artist than a random art installation. The contemporary art industry has reached the highest worth, where the most sought-after Contemporary artists value equivalent Art History classics.

The art of current artists is becoming more popular and expensive among the buyers, accelerating the auction costs. A few of the most prominent instances are David Hockney, whose canvas Portrait of an Artist reached $90.3 million, and Jeff Koons, with $91 million for a single art piece (The Contemporary Art Market Report, 2019).

Among the most in-demand artist on the current market are American – Shepard Fairey and Kaws. They are the only two performers to sell more than 600 works each throughout 2019 (The Contemporary Art Market Report, 2019). Thus the buyers of contemporary art are more focused on the specific artists than the desire to acquire a particular piece, which sets a new trend and demand increase in the art industry.

Multiple motivations push art buyers to purchase specific pieces. The top 3 motivations to buying contemporary art are in devotions of decorations for home, personal inspiration, and collecting purposes (Key Factors Driving Art Collectors, 2019). Contemporary artists seem to fit the most with current buyers’ tastes and desires, explaining such popularity. The price cannot sufficiently define the quality of modern art at these times but on an increasingly expanding personal branding trend. The creators with the highest revenue are prolific artists whose popularity relies on branding (The Contemporary Art Market Report, 2019). Even though the quality of the art is increasing, so do the prices on contemporary pieces.

The increase in value for contemporary art defines its dominant consumer, which are wealthy people. The higher class buyers are the only buyers of fine art with collecting or inspirational purposes verified by the U.S. Trust, stating that one in five high net worth individuals contain art (Key Factors Driving Art Collectors, 2019). Besides, art buyers are usually highly educated people who deeply investigate the origin and meanings behind specific objects. Luxury Daily investigated that sixty-three percent of art buying households hold a bachelor’s degree and appear the key demographic for interest in art (Key Factors Driving Art Collectors, 2019).

The quality of contemporary art in the market is a controversial topic that dynamically changes due to the rapid growth of art. With the higher demand for an art installation, works are circulating at an increasingly fast pace, overwhelming the market (Key Factors Driving Art Collectors, 2019). Such a tendency decreases art quality and gradually devaluates the particular segment. In contrast to not as prosperous periods, the works suffered a progressive decline in prices as the primary pieces gradually disappear from the market to join museum collections, which inevitably influences contemporary art’s overall quality.

Brand Development

There was no critical need to make a personal brand for the artist; however, contemporary art demands modern approaches. A few vital factors ensure creating an effective brand, one of the most important being the definition of an artist’s customers. This will help define the type of branding one may work on, whether it is luxury or bizarre and specific to narrow purchasers. The next step is promotion, which is commonly done with the help of a professional, who will help maintain and increase an artist’s reputation.

Though artists should maintain their artistic and creative image, some PR events may cross lines and significantly damage one’s reputation or become its biggest booster. Contemporary artist Banksy has performed a never-seen-before stunt, where he shredded his painting in the auction gallery. His trick has added to his unique brand and previous history of museum pranks. After this event, Banksy’s demand has significantly increased, collectively with his paintings’ prices, all thanks to a successful PR campaign (Reyburn, 2020). However, the art world perceived it as a moment of fame for the artist, leaving no significant impact on the industry.

Damien Hirst has elevated artist branding to the best level, becoming an innovator of the art world. His unique works made of “biological” materials donated by regular people have worked as successful marketing becoming artists’ central recognizing feature. His fame is a combination of innovation, shock, and undeniable talent to create something never before seen. Working as his PR manager, Hirst managed to implement successful cases that made him world-famous.

Brand building is a critical factor in the 21st-century art community’s success, including artists, dealers, and galleries. Building a customer system by branding is one of the most effective ways of acquiring “warm” clients that are always ready to buy, which is highly important for art dealers and auction houses. Based on the brand’s positioning, customers form an impression; therefore, the artist’s attitude to controversial topics and their participation in specific associations contributes to their reputation and business performance.

Additionally, auction houses build their brand based on the service and customer journey. Thus, if the visitor is offered certain benefits and is consulted by a polite manager, their chances to sell are much higher. Honesty and loyalty are also crucial, especially for art dealers, which must become a foundation of their brand. Providing full details about the art objects and working in the promised terms with price alignment ensures successful career establishment.

An art display that became world-famous mostly due to its comprehensive branding strategy is the Body Worlds. The installation was designed by creative and conceptual designer Dr. Angelina Whalley, who made it her life goal to educate people about anatomy in aesthetical and informative ways. Collectively with her husband, Whalley designed a unique exhibit that has attracted over 50 million visitors in over 140 cities across America, Africa, Asia, and Europe since 1995.

Such broad reach would not be possible without strategic marketing, which appeared to start working from the debut exhibit. The showcase of the most talked-about traveling shows in the world was initially realized as an educational exhibition by The Institute for Plastination and immediately received a triumphant effect. The couple has done an excellent job of direct marketing and distributing the traveling museum that, after 25 years it is still a popular spot to visit in many countries. Thus, such a strategy of continual growth and international cooperation and the unique format of the exhibit ensured Body Worlds’ success.

To expand the outreach, a few additional marketing strategies may be implemented. Firstly, Body Worlds would significantly benefit from collaborating with other artists, which would boost their reach, attracting new customers. Secondly, the exhibit may create limited rooms with exponents available for only a limited time, creating a notion of exclusivity and creating a set of consistent visitors. Lastly, the exhibit’s creators may expand their collection, adding themes with each season instead of showcasing the prevalently similar display. Altogether these strategies are to significantly increase the reputation of the brand, subsequently growing its revenue.


Key factors driving art collectors—from aesthetics to investment. (2019). Artsy. Web.

National Endowment for the Arts. (2018). U.S. trends in arts attendance and literary reading: 2002-2017. Arts. Web.

Reyburn, S. (2020). Banksy is a control freak. but he can’t control his legacy. The New York Times. Web.

The Contemporary Art Market Report 2019. Artprice. Web.