Contemporary Figurative Painting
"The idea that there is progress in the arts in the same way that there is progress in science is absurd[...] Art is evolutionary, in that it responds to the times but it doesn’t improve." —John Currin
For most of the 20th century, in Western Art, the discussion of "modern painting" largely ignored figurative works in favor of the significant avant-garde movements—from Cubism to Minimalism—that embraced abstraction. Only a few movements to include figuration (like Surrealism and Pop) would make their way into "high art" discourse until roughly the 1980s, when figurative painting returned with a vengeance, in particular via the works of Neo-Expressionist artists like Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Since, figurative painting has continued its resurgence, and its current forms feature a wide range of experimental forms, compositions and subjects. Examples include the art-historically informed portraits of Currin and Kehinde Wiley, the blurred memories of Gerhard Richter and Luc Tuymans, and the reduced figuration of Marcel Dzama, Dana Schutz, and Marlene Dumas.