A Quandry

Should a piece of art stand on its own without any knowledge of the artist’s intent and/or an explanation of the image?  We debated this question today at the critique group.

Here’s the reason for the discussion:

nose tweakers

Do I need to tell you the story behind this collage for you to appreciate its value and to understand it?  Does it truly matter what it represents?  I really want to know your answer to that question, so please send me your comments, and then, maybe, if you’re interested, I’ll give you the story behind the original image.

PS:  I’ve named it “Nose Tweakers.”  (That’s a clue.)


11 thoughts on “A Quandry

  1. Leo

    I don’t think we necessarily need to know the intentions of the artist. Art is an invitation to interpret. The process of interpreting is an enrichment in itself, even when the outcome is different from the artists intent. Moreover, the artist interprets as she creates, and thus she enriches herself.
    By the way, I love reading your stuf, even though it is the first time I respond to your blog.

    1. cynthiafrigon Post author

      Thank you for your feedback, Leo. In this new career of mine, I keep hearing that the artist must have a story to go along with their art because everyone loves a story and because without it the artist is expecting his viewers to derive meaning. Nowadays, most people don’t want to work that hard to understand something. Think about the popularity of Facebook and You-Tube. Oh, what a wonderful discussion we could have about this topic in person over a good bottle of wine! Miss you–

  2. Sally

    I can appreciate the beauty of a bird that I see when out walking, but I also get great pleasure in finding out what bird I just saw – name, facts that kind of thing. So I guess it’s true for me with all things of beauty, art included. I’m attracted to the beauty first, but the cherry on top is learning about it.

  3. Susan

    I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this as it is so subjective to each individual. I’ve read interviews with some artists (painters, songwriters) who refuse to give any background re origins of their creations as they would rather have each person enjoy them in their own way. Others tell the detailed stories of how, where, why their creations were born. I personally love knowing.

    1. cynthiafrigon Post author

      Thanks, Sue, for your feedback. I believe yours is the contemporary viewpoint on this subject. There is an expectation now for an artist to explain his/her art and provide the context, but once upon a time it was believed that art exists for its own sake, outside of the artist. I personally know it is much easier to understand a poem by WB Yeats or TS Eliot if you know first something about the time period in which they wrote and the types of symbolism and themes they used regularly.

  4. Sally Perkoski

    So do we get to know what this picture is about? I see a really close up view of the insides of the nose

  5. Jessica

    It is not necessary to know the intention of a piece; I would argue the artist creates to artiulate something personal but also to inspire something in others. I enjoy art because it stimulates MY imagination, my natural curiosity, and my creativity. Also, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; when I find something beautiful, I want to meditate and sit with it regardless of the artists personal intention. That is their motivation, not mine. (PS If this has anything to do with noses, I would rather not know. Ha.)


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