Art has always had an evasive relationship with self-definition. Artists have never liked being pigeonholed into a single art movement or category and, in an attempt to prove the critics wrong, they develop styles and ideas that continually push the boundaries of definition. Never has this been truer than in what we like to call “contemporary art,” a category that itself defies definition through a slippery vagueness of terms. Not only are all styles and media included in this classification, it doesn’t even set a temporal boundary. If we take “contemporary” to mean the present and recent past, as Phaidon did for its latest survey, 25 years seems about right, so since 1986. Taking into account this dilemma of definition and categorization, Defining Contemporary Art presents a history of recent art not in the traditional style of overarching trends but as specific moments in time and the pivotal artworks that resulted.