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Discover: Five most influential cities for contemporary arts

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Five of the top contemporary art destinations in the world are New York City, Zürich, Switzerland, Tokyo, London, and Cape Town, South Africa. All of these destinations have special characteristics that set them apart from other competing cities.

Contemporary art is known for challenging the viewer. Their assumptions about what a piece of art should be or should represent are often turned on their heads. Contemporary art has many important centers around the world, where artists gather to share ideas and exhibit their works to an appreciative public.

Five of the top contemporary art destinations in the world are New York City, Zürich, Switzerland, Tokyo, London, and Cape Town, South Africa. All of these destinations have special characteristics that set them apart from other competing cities. This article will explore these six cities and share what makes them influential destinations for lovers of contemporary art.

1. New York City
New York City has an outstanding variety of museums and galleries dedicated to contemporary art. Some contemporary art is also displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The most popular contemporary art museum in New York is MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art. This museum features paintings, architecture, sculptures, and film. Some of the famous artists who have been showcased at MoMA include Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Felix Feneon, Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver, and Haegue Yang.

2. Zürich, Switzerland
Zürich, a prosperous city in north-central Switzerland, has long been a center for excellence in contemporary art. The city has drawn artists to study as well as to exhibit their works in world-class museums. 

There are several prominent museums in Zürich which display contemporary art and contribute to the conversation about its relevance to today’s society. 

Kunsthaus Zürich is one of the best-known museums in the city. Together with its collections of historical artworks, the museum offers rotating exhibits of new works.

One of the art world’s many contemporary voices is the Algerian-French sculptor and photographer Kader Attia. Attia’s exhibition at the Kunsthaus deals with the problems of colonialism and cultural appropriation.

The Kunsthalle museum is a leader in the contemporary art scene in Switzerland and around the world. This museum does not have a permanent collection, focusing instead on bringing the newest work to the public eye. Featured artists have included Ida Ekblad, Wolfgang Tillmans, Ed Atkins, and Trisha Donnelly.

The Mona Lisa Foundation, while it is largely concerned with the work of Leonardo da Vinci, is interested in bringing historical artworks into the contemporary viewer’s life. The Foundation preserves and protects the earlier Mona Lisa, a genuine painting by Leonardo. The earlier Mona Lisa has had a rich and interesting history since it was “rediscovered” in England during World War I. Art historians and scholars are able to study at the Foundation’s facility by prior arrangement.

3. Tokyo
The Japanese contemporary art world has an excellent reputation. One prominent institution is the MOT or Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. This museum contains a fascinating cross-section of Japanese contemporary art and works from around the globe. Artists featured at the MOT include Eiko Ishioka and Mark Manders.

Another popular Japanese museum of contemporary art is the Mori Art Museum. The STARS exhibit features six contemporary artists from Japan who have shared their talents with the world. These artists include Yayoi Kusama, Lee Ufan, Tatsuo Miyajima, and Takashi Murakami. This exhibit is concerned with the postwar period in Japanese art, touching on issues of decolonization and multiculturalism.

4. London
London has been a hotbed of contemporary art for many years. The Tate Modern museum is the best-known institution for contemporary art. This museum combines new and unusual artworks from around the world. Some of the contemporary artists featured at the Tate Modern include Cao Guimarães and Rivane Neuenschwander.

Other London institutions of contemporary art include the Whitechapel Gallery and the Serpentine Gallery. The Whitechapel Gallery has been an important center for contemporary art since the 1910s. Some of the artists featured at the gallery include GIllian Wearing, Sarah Lucas, and Benedict Drew.

5. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town has been the site of a revolution in contemporary African art. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa opened in 2017 and is the largest museum of its kind in the world.

The museum holds many influential works of African art in its collections. Some of the eminent artists featured in the museum include Chris Ofili, Kehinde Wiley, Glenn Ligon, and Marlene Dumas.

Another influential player in the Cape Town contemporary art scene is the Stevenson Gallery. This gallery features the work of many local and international artists, covering many genres of art.

Exploring contemporary art
Contemporary art is everywhere, but many art connoisseurs ignore it in favor of historical works. Keeping up with the newest trends can help an art lover understand the world we live in today. Whether visiting New York, Zürich, Tokyo, London, or Cape Town, there are many quality institutions that will introduce the viewer to the many faces of contemporary art.