Contemporary art has been the name not just for any art coming chronologically after modern art, but for art responding to its time. “Responding” here has the triple sense of “giving form,” “exceeding” and “addressing.” It implies a specific understanding of the appearing and sharing of the new in the present time. In Germany, up until the beginning of the 21st century, a scheme of overcoming and progress still shaped the conception of the new in artforms meant to be contemporary, although most of them were critical of the Enlightenment’s faith in progress. In the last years, however, there seems to have been a shift in the way theorists, journalists and curators reflect on their contemporary art. This shift, most manifest in the latest documenta, concerns artforms in themselves. Discussing what is thereby currently at stake revisits, from today’s standpoint, the fundamental question for modern Aesthetics of what an artform is and what and whom it addresses. This opens up a research field into the history of German thought revealing correspondences among seemingly incompatible thinkers such as Hegel, Arendt and Jacobi, that – surprisingly – can help us to understand our time.