Does art have to have a meaning?

So, a lot of people are arguing on the topic if pieces of artwork (any kind, just take a painting for example) have to have a deeper meaning, a message or some sort of information to it.

To make it short: maybe?

Well, I could end the article now but neither would I be satisfied with the shortnes of this articel nor would you want to come here ever again (or tell your friends about this page 😉 ). So I think I need to explain “maybe” in a little more detailed way.

Said shortly (again) this is no scientific question. Obviously everyone would have his or her own opinion, what leads to “yes” or “no” not being really valid answers to some. But more than just to please you I think maybe is the most fitting description of this problem. Why?

First, everything we say and do has a message on a basic level. Some sort of message. If we eat, it means we were hungry or just wanted to eat for some other reason. If we draw a middlefinger – well the message is obvious – we want to tell certain people certain things. Maybe. Even if we just leave a blanket white or draw it white it could send the message that obviously the artist didn’t want to draw anything in particular or had no inspiration so he just drew a white canvas white and called it art. So every artwork has a message after all?

Hmmmmmmnnot really. It depends on how you define message. Does every message have a meaning? Again, a message always means something but thats not what we mean, isn’t it? We mean meaning (thats a mean play of words I know…) as something intendet by the artist to get an emotional response from the viewer. But can we say that every drawing, piece of music or other type of artwork are intendet to get emotional response? So we come to…

…second, we don’t know if the person had any intentions. What about practicing drawing, drawing something that has already been drawn, drawing without intention? Maybe the drawer of the white canvas wanted to teach people something about peace, love, unity, a clear mind. But do we know? How would we know? All that we can do is to interprete the drawing by our means, which leads to…

…third, is art still art if there is no reciever? No observer? Probably yes because it had a creator. But what about the message and menaing intendet to reach some emotional response from someone else? We probably all heared of quantum mechanics. One of the most known examples is the falling tree. Quantum mechanics suggests that if a tree falls in a lonely forest and noone even knows about it or hears it, it doesn’t nececarily made any sound at all. So if theres no observation, maybe theres no sound. So if theres no observation, maybe the artwork has no meaning.

In conclusion there are just too many uncertain factors that we can not possibly know about unless the artist tells us the meaning and intention straight on. So maybe art has to have a meaning, but maybe there isn’t a single, universal message in it. There is no one meaning in a piece of artwork, just an intendet message embedet in a creation and a lot of different perceptions, which may or may not come close to understanding the originaly intendet message.

In the end worrying too much about the meaning of a piece of artwork destroys it’s impact. So next time you ask yourself what the meaning of a particular pice of art is, don’t. It, maybe, has none.

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