Janet Leadbetter, yellow squares, red windows
It is a high modernist piece----minimalist in style, strong simple colours, has a grid,and is mostly surface. It lies firmly within the narrative of modernist American art that includes colour field painting and hard edged abstraction that marked the end of abstract expressionism; a narrative which Clement Greenberg argued saw colour-field abstraction as the next step towards purifying painting. For Greenberg painting would save art from the kitsch of pop by attaining purity.
Yet this is a photograph not a painting.
For most of the twentieth century, and especially in the 1920s and the 1960s, when modernist attitudes prevailed, the word contemporary served, in art discourse as elsewhere, mainly as a default for modern. Since the decline of modernism in the 1980s and has appeared in institutional naming---of galleries, museums, auction house departments, academic courses,
and textbook titles--which, however, tend to use contemporary as a soft signiﬁer of current plurality.
That leaves us with some questions: what does it mean to be contemporary? What does contemporary as opposed to modernist art/photography look like?