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Modern vs Contemporary

Modern is a historical period that extends from 1501 to 1945.
Contemporary refers to the current period and extends back to include works produced by people who are potentially still alive. As such, it is currently possible to refer to works such as art or literature as far back as 1945 as contemporary.

Modern History

The timeline of modern history coincides with the emergence of the term modern to describe recent or present times in the 16th century. Modern history is characterized by two broad trends: globalization and technical advancement.


It is common to refer to ideas and works produced after 1945 as postmodern. This is defined inconsistently across different domains. For example, postmodern architecture is often defined as beginning in the 1960s or later.

Information Age

A more useful designation for the period 1945 ~ present is the information age. This is delineated by the computers that emerged out of WWII that went on to transform government, business, society and culture.

Modern vs Contemporary

In addition to being a name for a period of history, modern is a word that can be used to describe anything that has occurred as far back as the 16th century. For example, it is possible to refer to a recent painting as modern art. However, the term contemporary art is more useful because it implies an artwork produced since 1945 whereas the term modern could be applied to 1545. Contemporary is a more precise description for recent works.


It is also common to define the modern era as beginning in the 1860s to coincide with the industrial revolution.
Postmodernism is sometimes defined as beginning in the 1960s.
Postmodernism is often criticized as a vague and useless term.
Contemporary ideas and works are sometimes referred to by the ridiculous term post-postmodern.
It is unclear if the future will apply the term postmodern to the current age. A term such as information age seems more likely.
Modern vs Contemporary
Recent works or works as far back as 1501.
Present works or works by people who are potentially still alive.
Date Range
1501 - 1945
1501 - present
1945 - present


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Art's Sake
Artistic License
Characteristics of Art
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Importance Of Art
Modern Art
Negative Space
Vanishing Point
Venus Effect
Visual Arts
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