This education resource developed by ACE Open in collaboration with the Art Gallery of South Australia introduces you to the world of contemporary art. Learn more about where artists get their inspiration from, the engines of contemporary art making processes and how this can be translated into a classroom context – shifting the balance from outcome to an idea-driven focus.

Who is ACE Open?

ACE Open provides transformative contemporary art experiences for artists and audiences from its CBD art space in Adelaide. As South Australia’s flagship contemporary art gallery, ACE Open presents a year-round program of free exhibitions by practicing South Australian, Australian and international artists. Its exhibitions, talks and events are held at its Lion Arts Centre home in the west end of the city.

Tracey Emin, Britain, born 1963, Save Me, 2018, London, neon, 48.0 x 122.0 cm; Gift of Peggy Barker, Dianne Finnegan, David McKee AO, Pam McKee, Jill Russell and Tracey Whiting through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation Collectors Club 2018, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Tracey Emin/Copyright Agency.

What is contemporary art?

Learn about artists and their practice

Margaret Dodd, Australia, born 1941, Clay Glen, Australia, born 1961, Bridal Holden, from the series This Woman is Not a Car, 2017, Adelaide; printed by Chris Weverling at ProLab Imaging, Adelaide, inkjet pigment print on paper, 36.5 x 55.0 cm (image), 42.4 x 61.1 cm (sheet); Lorraine Hossack Fund through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Margaret Dodd/Clay Glen/Copyright Agency.

Seven Engines of Contemporary Art

A framework for understanding contemporary art

detail: Chiharu Shiota, Japan, born 1972, Absence Embodied, 2018, Berlin and Adelaide, red wool, bronze, plaster, dimensions variable; Gift of the Gwinnett family through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2018, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, installation view: Absence Embodied, 2018, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, photo: Saul Steed.

Five Definitions of Contemporary art

Artists are future proofers

installation view: 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres featuring Once bitten, twice shy by Mark Valenzuela, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide;; photo: Saul Steed.

Artists in Focus

Featuring Kate Bohunnis and Mark Valenzuela

The Gallery’s Learning programs are supported by the Department for Education.

This education resource has been developed in collaboration with ACE Open and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Written by Dr. Belinda Howden with contributions from Louise Dunn, Kylie Neagle and Dr. Lisa Slade.