What Gives Art Meaning.

Around 1671 the Kustmuseum Basel opened. It is considered the very first art museum and houses many masterpieces from the 17th and 19th centuries. It has artworks from Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, and many others. These artworks are a timeline, showing many people the highs and lows of our history and the mentality of those times.  

However, even with all the artworks spanning over many generations, a hot topic in the art world is what constitutes art and what makes art meaningful. This conversation has been going on for a while, however it became more heated in 2019 when an Italian artist named Maurizio Cattelan sold a piece for six figures. This piece of artwork was simple: a banana taped to a wall titled “Comedian” and claimed that the purpose of the artwork was to offer “insight into how we assign worth and what kind of objects we value,” he said in a interview with HuffPost. This strange artwork sparked quite a controversy and resulted in a debate on what should be considered art.  

When talking about what is and is not art, one thing to remember is that art is always subjective. One person can look at a piece of artwork and, if they feel something, they are allowed to consider it art. It also works the same way the other way around. If you look at a painting or listen to a song and do not get any emotional response, you are personally allowed to not consider it a piece of art. This rule can also apply to the objective of the artwork. Some artists are incredibly open about what they were trying to convey with their artwork, while others leave a lot of their pieces up to interpretation. Due to this, people often do not consider some things art if they do not convey a specific meaning. For example, some people think that all artworks must be “beautiful,” so to them abstract paintings are not truly art. This is a reason people do not consider graffiti art, but consider surrealism art. 

Finally, the meaning behind art is particularly important to a lot of people. Frida Kahlo, for example, was a Mexican painter and a lot her inspiration came from issues at the time like the Mexican Revolution. She wanted to shine a light on specific problems, which gave her art a lot of meaning and is a large reason it continues to be extremely popular today. However, not a lot of art has very deep or complex meanings, and some do not have any at all. This, to a lot of people, draws the line of actual artwork and simply a hobby. However, the meaning behind artwork is also subjective, and can’t just be seen when simply looking at the work. All art has a meaning when you think deep enough about it.