The Millennial Age of Art

Millennials, Generation Y, no matter what you call them, they’re changing the world. For better or worse and in nearly every way possible. Especially the art scene.

Millennials make up the largest portion of the U.S. population as of 2014, so it’s rather clear that current art opinions and tastes are changing as a result of this new generation. In order for artists and curators alike to attract this wider, younger audience, they have transformed their methods and collections.

Research shows that Millennials differ from their predecessors, the Baby Boomers, in their collecting of art and reasoning behind it. Millennials live in a world full of technology so it’s logical to assume that the way they are getting and collecting art is also transitioning online. Similarly, the way of thinking Millennials are accustom to differs from Boomers in that Millennials are not concerned as much with the background or type of art they collect. They like what they like, regardless of the name in the corner or the prestige behind it.

I interviewed a fellow student, Callie Salske, about her tastes in art in order to get another Millennials opinion first-hand. Salske admitted to feeling overwhelmed sometimes when it came to certain art pieces, because she says, “Sometimes people get appreciation from things I don’t get at all.” She explained that on a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago she saw a work in the contemporary section that was essentially a pile of candy wrappers (below). Salske said that in her opinion, “painting is more art.” She doesn’t see art as something that she could’ve thrown together herself.

While not all Millennials (or Boomers) might agree, this shows the diversity of opinion and taste that is the current generation. Many Millennials, similar to Salske, though, wouldn’t want to spend money on art that doesn’t inspire or attract them somehow. Regardless of whatever powerful meaning or execution was behind the candy wrapper pile, this generation will tend to base their opinion about it based on their initial reactions.

Salske went on to say that the “sunburst is neat” near Discovery Park, not necessarily a strong opinion, but she outlines her taste in the bright colors and the eye catching size and final result.


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