Our Picks: Best Places For Contemporary Art 2016


It is very difficult to find top sources for contemporary arts in a place which is so diverse in its art scene and have massive collections of world’s renowned master pieces. Still, we have compiled a list of our favorite picks for 2016 of all art lovers must visit at least once. We have two categories: the first are places in the real brick-and-mortor world, and second are our picks in the virtual World.

AMJ’s Best Places In The Real World For Art 2016 :

Tate Modern UK

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 2.40.13 PMOne cannot simply talk about contemporary art without mentioning the most visited art gallery in UK; Tate Modern. This stunning gallery has worldwide reputation for housing the entire history of modern art from the 20th century in a three-story building, encompassing almost everything from performance to photography. Many famous artists of the contemporary world such as Damein Hirst and Edvard Munch have displayed their exhibitions in the Tate Museum.

For more information visit: www.tate.org.uk

S.M.A.K Belgium

images-1The Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst is a modern and young upstart in today’s contemporary art scene. This gallery has become popular among the art enthusiasts who have greatly appreciated the vibrant art collection displayed at the casino-come-gallery. The art gallery also houses the collections of the legendary artists such as Warhol, Bacon and Abramovic.

For more information visit: http://smak.be/en

Centre Pomipidou France

240px-Pompidou_centerThis gallery is famous for having the art collections of a number of famous artists such as Picasso, Miro and Matisse which are known to be rotated every six months. The post modernistic building on which the gallery is situated is also quite famous for providing stunning views of the entire city from its outer elevator.

For more information visit: www.centrepompidou.fr/en

Kröller-Müller Museum Netherlands

kroller-muller-museum-logoWhat makes this gallery unique and famous is its renowned outdoor sculpture park which features the collection of the world’s famous sculptors of the last century. The indoor collection is also quite impressive and among the collections by famous artist, this gallery also has the honor of housing somes works by Van Gogh.

For more information visit: http://krollermuller.nl/bezoek

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia Spain

museo-reina-sofia-enThe reason which makes this gallery one of the most famous gallery of Europe is that is the home of Pablo Picasso’s monumental ‘Guernica’ which is considered as the most influential art work of the 20th century. The gallery also displays work of other important artists of the contemporary world such as Dali ,Gris and Miro and many other. All these collections have made this gallery a must-visit for anyone who has appreciative tastes for the contemporary arts.

For more information visit: www.museoreinasofia.es/en

Castello di Rivoli Italy

logoThis gallery is located in a building which itself is a World Heritage Site. The prestigious art collection displayed at the gallery is every bit stunning as the building which houses it. The artworks comprise of sculptures, paintings and videos from various artists including Tracey Emin, Nan Goldin and Anselm Kiefer. The gallery is also famous for offering world’s famous restaurants in Combal Zero whose food is as much a piece of art work as in the Castello’s collections.

For more information visit: www.castellodirivoli.org/en

So these are our top 6 for the coming new year, highly recommended institutions in the brick-and-mortar World which are famous for their contemporary art collections. And now we present our recommendations for the virtual World:

AMJ’s Virtual Picks For Art 2016 :

Google Art Project

1024px-Screenshot_Google_Art_Project_Manet_WintergartenThe Google Art Project is one of the most ambitious proejcts out in the virtual World. Described as an online platform through which the public can access high-resolution images of artworks housed in the initiative’s partner museums. The project was launched on 1 February 2011 by Google, in cooperation with 17 international museums, including the Tate Gallery, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; and the Uffizi, Florence.  The initiative continues to expand with now adding additional partnership agreements with 151 museums from 40 countries.

For more information visit: www.google.com/culturalinstitute/project/art-project

The Museum For Massurrealist Art

MMA2 This place is definitely worth keeping an eye on. It is a virtual Museum dedicated to massurrealism, which is a grass-roots art genre merging surrealism with mass media & technology; which makes for a very intriguing perspective of art that we see every day. The museum, which hosts various artists works, showcases not just static art, but also video & multi media primarily on their facebook presence. This museum represents a group / artistic direction that one might consider ‘outsider’ while at the same time producing works that appeal to the public especially when one looks at the visual imagery used in advertising. It’s always a pleasure to visit and see what they have on current display.

For more information visit: www.massurrealism.org
on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheMuseumForMassurrealistArt

Worth a look: 60 Minutes presentation: “Even in tough times, contemporary art sells” : https://youtu.be/_mHVy_hH8vc

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 4.20.31 PM


The Ubiquitous Presence Of Massurrealism

Classical surrealism broke all possible boundaries when it broke onto the art scene. Rules on what defined art’s “subject” became irrelevant. Links to the real world became tenuous at best – usually, surrealist work bears only fleeting shapes of semblance with the real world.

In the mid-20th century, as surrealism took shape, technology as we know it in the early 21st century was beyond the wildest dreams of virtually all humans, so tools of surrealistic expression were limited, at least by our standards. Paint on canvas, or some variation of that, was the main tool of choice. Thought the subjects became outlandish and imaginary, the tools used to depict those outlandish subjects hadn’t changed in a fundamental way.

Half a century on, technology has changed so drastically and so quickly that all modes of expression are now faced with near limitless opportunity to change, combine and mutate styles within artistic disciplines. Computers and smartphones are actually capable of more than the human psyche is capable of truly comprehending. Significantly more.

The days of classical surrealism are over. Or rather, to be more specific, the days of surrealism as “art nouveau,” or the newest level of possibility on the art stage, are over.

When art of any kind is divided into movements or styles, those defining traits tend to boil down to certain artists making certain kinds of work at a particular time, in light of specific cultural and artistic realities. Once that movement has happened in time, it’s locked into the past, and can never happen again.

Which means that “classical” surrealism, as made by Dali and so many others, can’t happen again. It can be imitated, of course. An artist can still pay homage and create a piece that echoes what has already been done, but that by definition is retrospective, it considers something that is already complete. Such an exercise may be inspiring and incredible in its own right, but when a piece casts its gaze backward for inspiration, it limits its ability to speak to the current, immediate world an artists resides in.

So without classical surrealism, is massurrealism the next logical step? By definition, massurrealism is surrealistic imagery executed using 21st century technological mass media. In this case mass media can mean social media, videos etc, and it can also mean media which are mass produced items, i.e. common, easily purchased items.

So when people create what some may think is surrealistic images using the tools they have at hand in the modern day (computers, smartphones, digital manipulation, common mass produced items) it seems safe to say it could be called massurrealistic art. With so much of massurrealism arising from seemingly mundane, common objects and technologies in our modern world, the connection of art with the everyday objects and experiences around us is deeply impactful. Art rooted in universal, shared experiences allows for the possibility of continuous, ongoing creativity for many many people, not just the bourgeois elite of society.

One of the truest measures of art’s impact is its real life effect. If a song, film, book or poem continually commands memory and attention to itself long after first seeing, hearing or reading it, it seems safe to consider that art. Good art can resurface again and again, inciting conversation after conversation as the world around us changes in light of its fresh perspective.

Founding massurrealist James Seehafer takes his commitment to real life impact seriously. In “Postage Stamp in mid-flight” he successfully transcends the gallery wall by combining classical techniques, digital manipulation, and mass communication techniques. When viewers engage his mixed-medium piece (aluminum base with acrylic on canvas, topped by giclée collage print) they find a QR code. With a swipe of a smart phone, viewers unlock a second leg of this piece’s journey, a video of the self-same titular Austrian stamp sitting on a real life cobble road, amidst traffic and city noise. Until it pops away into non existence.

Extended media example – James Seehafer:

James Seehafer, “Postage Stamp in Midflight” 2014. Photography / digital collage, paint on aluminum with extended media(below).

Such a piece successfully breaks down walls between art and human consciousness. It’s a natural reflection of the ubiquity of communication technology, and also inherently massurrealist. The vast majority of people can access the entirety of this piece only through an intensely complex device,  a smartphone, the result of untold thousands of hours of work and human effort. In reality, a huge amount of work produced in the early 21st century is of this nature – our Western world is comprised of vastly advanced technological marvels which are constantly being moulded into art by the forward thinking artists of our time.

Art in traditional styles is still made all the time, of course, by amateurs and professionals alike, but the bleeding edge of art, those on the cusp of new frontiers, are today illustrating as many realities and subjective contexts as possible. In the case of “Postage Stamp in mid-flight” the piece is literally transformed from fantasy imagery into our modern day reality through our smartphones. Yet that is still only half of the story, because after all it isn’t “real” in the sense that the video portion of the piece is actually a collection of pixels imitating that stamp, rather than the comically oversized stamp itself. Even further, at one point in time, that giant stamp did exist on some real cobblestone street in order to be filmed.

In this way, massurrealist art successfully highlights inherent absurdity. Specifically, our culture’s technology has advanced so quickly that our animal brains are struggling to keep up, advanced though we are. Instant cross-global communication would be seen as magic or witchcraft 200 years ago, and science fiction 80 years ago, and yet this fiction is now our reality. Massurrealism helps us understand our confused mental situation for what it is – the struggle between technology and subjective truth. ∙∙∙