The Difference Between Traditional And Contemporary Oil Paintings

Composition A, Piet Mondrian

Art appreciation differs for every art enthusiast. Normally, how people react on a certain piece is determined not by the actual art pieces but is greatly dependent on a person’s character and preferences. Since art is subjective and depends on the one that looks at it, art cannot be categorized into which is beautiful and which is not. The beauty of every art piece cannot be determined by using a single standard. You cannot compare one created using a modern style with others being traditional. What you can only do is to find out which one you like and to know what style it falls into.

Contemporary oil paintings are different from traditional oil paintings. Although they may use the same medium, material and subject, the result will be far-fetched from each other. There will never be a similarity in appearance between contemporary paintings and the traditional. These differences can be greatly attributed to the emotions these two type of paintings brings. With traditional canvas oil paintings, a lot will be said about love, peace, beauty and tranquillity. Contemporary oil paintings on the other hand will bring out pain, anger, frustration and distress. Even if you ask the artists to paint the same subject, the result will greatly differ.

With traditional art initially meant to be created for the church and the rich, they normally predict good life. Colors are intended to cheer and to exude happiness. The brushstrokes are smooth and soft, not deliberate and are usually measured. You will find it flowing in a single direction, not contradicting a certain pattern of movement. The artist’s goal is to frame a life meant to be lived; to have a standard of beauty and peace. A typical traditional art will convey harmony and synchronization. Traditional art in general is an artist interpretation of life as it should be—peaceful, harmonious and tranquil.

Contemporary oil paintings are the complete opposite. More often than not, balance is never seen in these types of oil paintings. There are pieces that seem to have no center, if there is, it is normally not located in the middle of the canvas. Strokes vary depending on the artist’s mood or expression. Typically, it does not emanate the standard beauty most people are used to. The beauty in these pieces is found not in the canvas, but beyond it. Emotions are contradicting in this type of art. Extreme emotions can be felt, neither negative nor positive. It may be disturbing at some point, but somehow gives a comfort at some point, too. There is no regularity or pattern, which it may sometime seem as if it is a work of a three year old. However, a keen eye for art will depict deeper meaning with heavy strokes and irregular lines. Very few people finds contemporary art peaceful as it sometimes become chaotic just looking at it. Even if they use a subject that will normally sends out happy feelings and thoughts, the outcome can be horrid or depressing. As contemporary art is not deceptive, the story that normally is being relayed is about human suffering, pain and frustration.


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