Artist’s Intention, How Much Does it Matter? Part 1.

Does Artist Exist in His Art?

At art exhibitions, we can’t help questioning artist’s hidden motives behind his/her creative output whether or not it is an astounding piece of art. It’s like a guessing game. Contemporary art is criticized for its complexity and provocative format. Yes, it is a tough pill. Kid you not even renowned curators feel intimated and overwhelmed more than you assume. Hence, we often turn our eyes to artist’s note or wall labels expecting to obtain a teeny-tiny bit of evidence, but again you don’t feel convinced or do not simply agree with it. In this article, I want to cast a question how much the intent of artist matters when viewing art.

Artist's Intention and Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama, Obliteration Room, (2002-2014).

Here’s my conclusion first. Don’t frat if you get their intention or not.

Believe in What You See and How You Feel

Although specifically said to the Minimalism movement, I’d like to interpret Frank Stella’s famous quote, “What you see is what you see” in another way and say viewer’s experiences are in the same logic. Literally, I mean what you see is what you see. In Death of the Author, Roland Barthes says, “a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination.” In other words, the author or artist who originates a text cannot have a superior power. Barthes asserts that when an author is removed, the scope of interpretation expands. 

Artist Intention and Felix Gonzalez Torress
Felix Gonzalez-Torres: “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers), 1991.

In my personal experience, I thought about my heterosexual dating relationship when faced with Felix Gonzalez Torres’ work. However, this piece was birthed to bring awareness of AIDS combined with his personal loss of a loved one. Am I wrong for thinking something else? I hardly think so! There is no such thing as a wrong and correct answer. When a work is created and leaves the artist’s hand, it no longer belongs to the creator, but only viewers. Maybe how a little background story about an artist can be an interesting fact and, of course, you are free to investigate that.

The thing is authorial intention viewing is not the absolute approach. Based on one’s living circumstances and experiences, everyone will feel differently. Furthermore, even if you attempt to comprehend the work based on authorial intention, it will hardly resonate with you in a profound level because we all have different histories in life.

Artist Intention and Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol. Marilyn Monroe. 1967

My advice? Just relax and take a look at whatever you have. Tell me what you think of a work!

Author: Joomie Lee

Marketing, BBuzzArt

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