It’s an exciting time to be alive if you’re interested in the arts. Even more so if you’re interested in seeing the world of artists and their materials evolve. There are many areas in which innovation in art plays out, but none of them are quite as visible as innovation in materials. Here is a look into what drives this innovation, as well as some examples of the latest artwork innovations in which artists all around the world are using unique materials to create new works, as well as a look into what drives this artistic innovation.
Limited Funding Drives Artwork Innovation
It’s long been known that federal funding for the arts is quite small, especially when compared to other disciplines and practices. Federal funding for the arts and humanities typically rolls in around $250 million a year. In contrast, the National Science Foundation is funded around the $5 billion mark.
There are many possible explanations for this. Everything from government infrastructure to local economic development exists as possible causes. Whatever the reason, it’s easy to see that limited funding drives artists to innovate with their methods and materials.
Such funding constraints may seem like a major disadvantage to most artists at first glance, however, you will be surprised how financial limitations have given way to enormous leaps in innovation in the arts. Whether in abstract art or straightforward installations, financial barriers have proven to be an incredible motivator for artists of all disciplines. When an artist does not have every possible dollar available to them for their projects, they tend to come up with unique and exciting ways to make full use of the things naturally occurring around them. Of course, this includes making use of different materials to create lasting works of art that bring people together. Here are some of the latest:
Stainless Steel in Art
One of the latest popular artwork innovations is the use of stainless steel. Many people are surprised to discover that stainless steel makes an excellent material for artworks of all kinds. While you can easily spot stainless steel in public artworks and sculptures, you’d also be fascinated to see how vastly stainless steel is used in abstract art and more traditional gallery pieces.
There are many different types and grades of stainless steel, each offering their own unique advantages. Stainless Steel 304 is the number one most common grade of stainless steel. Because of its prevalence in common items such as refrigerators and other household appliances, you likely own something that contains stainless steel 304. This also makes it a wonderful material for artists to work with. This grade is most commonly seen in statues and other types of public displays that are in one place for long periods of time. The natural properties of stainless steel 304, such as its strength and durability, make for an excellent material if an artist is looking to create a piece that can withstand lots of use over time.
Concrete in Art Works
Another of the latest artwork innovations in materials is concrete. Did you know that concrete is the number one used man-made material in the world? Although this fact may not seem too surprising when you consider the world of road work and construction, it’s a little more surprising in the world of abstract art. However, more and more sculptors are finding that concrete is a fun, flexible material to work with.
As demonstrated in its more practical, real-world applications concrete is made to last. While this isn’t exactly its primary goal in abstract art and sculpture, it does aid in making the material more appealing to artists of all kinds. Concrete is also able to hold a variety of different paints and textures on its surface, which makes for a bevy of fun combinations and creative possibilities.
Paints Are Changing, Too
While it’s easy to focus on physical materials used for sculptures and installation art, you shouldn’t overlook the innovation that is taking place in the evolution of paints. Take, for example, the world of graffiti or street art. Since its beginnings in the late ’70s, street art has always pushed for innovation and excitement, whether through abstract art or more straightforward cartoon-style portraits. In the past, artists using the accepted paints of the medium (spray paint) were quite limited by what they could achieve. Nowadays, however, there are more options than ever before.
Such innovations in spray paint types, caps, and sprays have led to wider cultural adoption of street art techniques. What once was seen as the artwork of vandals and outcasts has now found its home in art galleries all over the world. This is thanks, in large part, to the evolution of new paints that have allowed street artists to grow their craft and make pieces that have a greater appeal to art enthusiasts within the larger global art economy.
Although spray paint is one prime example of the evolution of paints, the change is apparent in watercolors, oil paints, acrylics and other forms of abstract art as well. The prevalence of paints that allow painters to create multiple layers with ease has led to a wealth of works that are growing more and more complex, and even more visually dense. Of course, such changes will only continue to dazzle art enthusiasts as innovation is nurtured and allowed to find its place within the wider culture of any given place.
Final Thoughts on Artwork Innovations
While tradition has its place in art and all other fields of culture, it is important that change and evolution are encouraged. When artists are free to play with new materials, that is when true innovation happens. That is also when new movements and schools of art are free to rise from the fertile soil of an established artistic tradition.
The world of modern art is always changing and evolving, yet many of its most fundamental principles remain the same. Evident in abstract art as it is in sculpture, art serves the important role of creating a lasting culture and bringing communities together around a shared interest. Be sure to keep an eye out for these and other artwork innovations through materials. The potential for beauty rests inside every object. You just might be dazzled by the next thing you come across.