The Armenian contemporary arts scene has been developing largely since the country split from the Soviet Union and declared independence in 1991.
However, the presence of experimental and avant-garde art movements in Armenia can be tracked back several decades. First, in the 1960's, reformatory painting opposing the socialist normative aesthetic, then in the 1970s when the Museum of Modern Art opened in Yerevan presenting abstract painting (the first, and for a long time the only one of its kind in the Soviet Union, where social realism was the only officially approved art for almost sixty years) and most importantly in the 1980s when glasnost and perestroika brought a cultural renewal, gave people hope for change and prompted artists to organize alternative events and exhibitions in unconventional spaces.
One of the most significant events in the Armenian art world of the latter period was an artistic movement called ‘3rd floor’ named after their first exhibition venue on the 3rd floor of the Union of Painters in 1987 and where they exhibited annually for five consecutive years. The ‘3rd floor’ artists, writers and theorists (Arman Grigoryan, Nazareth Karoyan and Arthur Sarkissian – to name a few) were united in their rebellion against the traditional aesthetic model of social realism.