Contemporary Portrait Art

portrait artists

Portrait art is considered to be a very old form of art dating back to the ancient Egyptian times, a place the art flourished in some 5,000 years ago. Long ago in those days before the advent of photography, a painting, a sculpture, or a drawn portrait was the only way to record people’s appearance or occurrences. It shouldn’t however be mistaken that portraits were only used for recordings. Artists also used portrait art to exhibit virtue, wealth, power, beauty, taste, etc. Portrait art has met a number of challenges along the way, one, being a decline in their taste and artists who do portrait art have even experienced scenarios where their work is rejected.

Understanding contemporary portrait art

For many people, defining modern portrait art is proving to be a confusing thing. The title ‘portrait art’ looks simplistic and even straightforward but when it comes to defining what portrait art actually is, it gets a little confusing. The new connotation of contemporary portrait art is not clearly defined. Fortunately, when you try to understand what can be construed as ‘contemporary’ is possible as long as you can trace the history of the concept and even explore its deeper themes.

The most basic definition of contemporary portrait art could be any kind of art in the form of painting, sculpture, installation, photography, performance or video art that is produced in the current times. There is however controversy about it as some art historians who claim that the late 1960s was the end of modern art.

So what mediums do contemporary artists use?

Contemporary portrait artists use a wide range of range of media for their portraiture. They use drawing, printing, photography, sculpture, or even multimedia. Modern portrait artists have in one way or another come up with various forms of portraiture that we are going to discuss here in this article piece, let find out about them below:

Pop art

The pop art movement is a form of portrait art that was pioneered starting in the 1950s and it lasted up until the 1970s. The leading artists who are credited for the pop art movement include Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. These artists are known for their aim of presenting mass culture. While this portrait art form declined in the 1970s and took the form of Neo-Pop art.


Pop art is credited for having helped to shape conceptualism, a form of contemporary portrait art which is said to have gone against the idea of art as being a commodity. This form of art emerged in the 1960s and still remains one of the main contemporary art movements of today. In conceptualism, the idea behind a work of art takes center stage. The major artists here include Damien Hirst, Ai Wei Wei and Jenny Holzer.


This form of modern contemporary portrait art was conceived back in the 1960s and it still continues to be produced today by the current portrait artists. The key minimalist artists include Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Dan Flavin.


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