Meaning of Contemporary Age

What is Contemporary Age:

The Contemporary Age is the historical period from the end of the 18th century to the present. This period concentrates the most dramatic changes in the historical-social development in the shortest time.

The paradigm of Modernity that crystallized in the eighteenth century involved a process of modernization of economic, institutional and social structures. The application of this model has been gradual and its speed has varied according to the social context of each nation.

The Contemporary Age is very complex, since it registers dramatic transformations in a very short time. The complexity of the changes experienced throughout this era has caused some historians to separate this period into different stages.

The first years of the Contemporary Age were extraordinarily important because they made it possible to make a qualitative leap in history.

These changes are strongly linked to two factors, from which the others follow:

  • the industrial revolution in the mid-eighteenth century;
  • the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789.

These two phenomena forever transformed the modes and means of production, as well as the political expectations of historical generations, which unleashed a series of unstoppable revolutionary changes.

Since then, the Contemporary Age has implied changes such as the demographic explosion, the formation of mass society, the reconfiguration of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the appearance of cultural industries, the exponential development of science and technology, the consolidation of the nation state and capitalism and the communications revolution.

See also:

  • Modern age.
  • Industrial Revolution.
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Stages of the Contemporary Age

Although the Contemporary Age covers a very short time in relation to the other periods, the changes brought about within it express profound differences between its stages. For this reason, historians have proposed its study by subperiods. The Englishman Eric Hobsbawm delimits these subperiods as follows:

From 1789 to 1848

From the French Revolution to the Spring of the Peoples or the Year of Revolutions, and which coincides with the publication of the Communist Manifesto.

From 1848 to 1875

It is a stage dominated by the settlement of capitalist rule from industrial development.

From 1875 to 1914

It corresponds to the era of imperialism and ends with the start of the First World War.

From 1914 to 1991

It spans from World War I, through World War II and the Cold War to the early 1990s. For Hobsbawm, these will be the years of the failures of socialism, capitalism and nationalism.

Art of the Contemporary Age

The Contemporary Age encompasses various movements that are not considered contemporary but modern, due to the prevalence of figurativism and the importance given to representation issues. For example, neoclassicism, romanticism, symbolism and impressionism, among many others.

The first wave of 20th century avant-gardes broke with that, like cubism, abstraction, and futurism. But although at the beginning of the 20th century the avant-gardes were considered to represent “contemporary art” because they were the art of their own time, the current chronological distance has modified this criterion.

Thus, we currently speak of contemporary art to refer to the art produced from the 1950s to the present, and which has been made from certain particular characteristics. Among the most outstanding trends are: pop art, conceptual art, performancethe happeningminimalism, kinetic art, artistic installation, sound art, graffiti, digital art, body art, hyperrealism, among others.

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See also:

  • Old age.
  • Middle Ages.