What is the difference between Modern and Contemporary visual art? This is a question that often drives the art discourse. It’s clear that a new kind of visual art emerged towards the end of the Salon period in the 19th century—when the rigidity of the academe gave way to Impressionism’s experiments in subject and mood. A true line was crossed, however, when the very notion of media was brought forth as worthy of investigation: Should art be confined to the categories of painting and sculpture?
The border between Modern and Contemporary visual art blurred with the introduction of the objet trouvé—the found object. Coined “readymade” by Marcel Duchamp, of whom the technique is assumed to have originated, it was, in fact, Pablo Picasso who first incorporated an everyday object into his art. His 1912 work “Still Life with Chair Caning” used the back of an actual chair as part of the painting. But Duchamp took this further, presenting whole objects as complete artworks—reaching a pinnacle with his famous “Fountain.”