"Defining contemporary can be tricky. Is it the art of the past 5, 10, or 20 years? Does the label validate a sense of historical importance, artistic innovation, or surety of meaning? Since so much of the work has yet to be shuffled through and sorted out, should we have any interest in its inclusion in the art history survey course? Although these questions and issues are not easy to grapple with, an awareness of contemporary art can be the key to a student’s engagement in the course." (AP Art History Teacher's Guide, 34)

Some important works:

Christo and Jean-Claude. The Gates. New York City, U.S. 1979-2005. Mixed-media installation.

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Horn Players. 1983. Acrylic and oil paintstick on three canvas panels.
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Magdalena Abakanowicz. Androgyne III. 1985. Burlap, resin, wood, nails, string.

Xu Bing. A Book from the Sky. 1987-1991. Mixed-media installation.
See also: Xu Bing discusses Jean-François Millet's Haystacks: Autumn.

Jeff Koons. Pink Panther. 1988. Glazed porcelain.

Cindy Sherman. Untitled (#228), from the History Portrait Series. 1990. Photograph.

Nam June Paik. Electronic Superhighway. 1995. Mixed-media installation (49-channel closed-circuit video installation, neon, steel, and electronic components).
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Bill Viola. The Crossing. 1996. Video/sound installation.

Frank Gehry. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Spain. 1997. Titanium, glass, and limestone.

Yinka Shonibare. The Swing (after Fragonard). 2001. Mixed-media installation.
external image T07952_312645_10.jpgexternal image Fragonard,_The_Swing.jpg

Julie Mehretu. Stadia II. 2004. Ink and acrylic on canvas.
See also: Julie Mehretu discusses Velázquez's Juan de Pareja.

"Teachers should avoid trying to hit the ever-moving target called the 'Art History Canon.' Rather than embedding the course in a series of second guesses as to what the 'AP Art History Exam Tooth Fairy' will bring come May, try covering the basics of each chapter in the textbook and then expressing yourself by picking one work—perhaps one that’s a little offbeat—that speaks to you, and spend meaningful class time on it." - John Nici, Lawrence High School, Cedarhurst, New York (AP Art History Teacher's Guide, 39)

Some influential texts:

Douglas Crimp, "The End of Painting," October, Vol. 16, 1981.

Linda Nochlin, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?," 1971. Also available online.

Susan Sontag, "In Plato's Cave," On Photography, 1977.