The Paradox of Tradition in Contemporary Art

Published: December 19, 2022


One might assume that tradition and contemporary art are at odds with each other, with contemporary artists striving to break away from traditional techniques and rules. However, this is not always the case. Many artists demonstrate a deep understanding of art principles and showcase their proficiency in their artwork.

For example, a contemporary painter who has a solid grasp of traditional color theory and design fundamentals, can use this knowledge to experiment with new forms of painting. This will yield the kind of artwork that is both rooted in tradition and groundbreaking in its approach.

Similarly, a contemporary sculptor with a strong foundation in traditional sculpture techniques, can use this knowledge to explore a new visual language and push the boundaries of what is possible in the medium.

In this way, tradition and contemporary art can coexist and even complement each other. A deep understanding of the foundational skills of classical art, allows contemporary artists to push boundaries by choosing the rules they want to break from.


It’s important to note that art fundamentals are not meant to be restrictive, but rather they serve as a starting point for an artist to build upon. A strong foundation in anatomy, color theory and perspective gives an artist the tools and understanding necessary to experiment and explore what is possible in their medium.

It’s the balance between this two opposing forces that makes contemporary art so exciting and dynamic. Artists like Picasso that have this as part of their tool set, are able to push boundaries and create truly groundbreaking pieces that challenge the status quo.