Pyś suggests that there’s a more fruitful way of considering contemporary art. “We can observe particular interests gathering momentum [among artists],” he wrote, citing technology, institutional critique (using art to undermine the art world’s own structures of power), and the environment. At the same time, Pyś continued, museums are “embracing disciplines typically beyond their mission or programs, evidenced today by the wider embrace of interdisciplinary practices, and the presentation of dance and performance within visual arts contexts.” While the concept of “movements” was helpful in erecting barriers between different groups of artists in the past, contemporary art is more interested in breaking down such divisions.
In 1986, art historian Rosalind Krauss wrote The Originality of the Avant-Garde, explaining this disintegration. Instead of focusing on the “cult of originality,” artists were recognizing that newness itself was impossible: Even the grid—the basic structure underlying a painting—was itself a copy of the woven canvas beneath. Critics and artists became more interested in voiding “the basic propositions of modernism” and “exposing their fictitious condition” than in trying to reach some art endgame that never existed in the first place.