Thursday, May 5, 2011

A valid interpretation of an artwork is dependent on an understanding of the artist’s intent and the context in which it was created?

Take a position for or against the given topic and support your stand with valid arguments and examples of artist/artworks

 I disagree that a valid interpretation of an artwork is dependent on an understanding of the artist's intent and the context within which it is created. Art, unlike many other academic subjects such as math and science, has no boundaries and no definite answer to it. Similarly, a boundary within which an interpretation of an artwork is considered valid should not be established, or rather it is non-existent.

Firstly, I do acknowledge that Artists definitely does have intent when creating a work, and there is a context within which she created it, upon which the artist would base her interpretation. It would be fair to say that this interpretation is the original intention, but it may not be the only interpretation that is valid.

In my opinion, so long as the viewer is able to substantiate her own interpretation of the artwork with reasons on her own, her interpretation is valid. Despite so, some viewers are not able to point out the reasons behind their interpretation, as their interpretation is solely based on initial reactions and instinctive feelings towards that work. In such cases, although others may not understand her interpretation, it does not deem this interpretation invalid, but rather, it can be considered personal one that only applies to her.

Art is something personal, and it can serve very different purposes for people with different values, aesthetic needs and people living in different context (environment and  time period). When a piece of art is put before the public, it would naturally be interpreted in various ways, and these interpretations may not be based on the artist’s intent and context which viewers initially know not of. Though their interpretation may not be in line with that of the artist, it is not invalid or unacceptable. We should understand that art is flexible and can be perceived from various perspectives, and all these perspectives can be valid.

Taking Jackson Pollock's "Number 1 (Lavender Mist)" for example. To the artist, the painting is created to capture the artist's pure virtuosity of paint handling and to allow to viewer to trace the rhythmic movements in the long arcs, staccato dribbles, or coagulated pools of color that accrue into a rich, shimmering interlace. With this intent, the artist original interpretation of this work would be that this is a total symphonic composition and this speaks of the struggle against alienation, fragmentation and disintegration that displays order out of chaos. However, when this piece of work is placed before the public that may be oblivious to the artist's intent, it is open to various interpretations. Unaware of Pollock's drip technique (action painting), people may interpret this painting as a suggestion of astronomical photographs of nebulae and galaxies. To others, the close up details of this painting may resemble microscopic photos of molecular structures. On one hand one could interpret it is an nuclear explosion (signified by the "explosion" of paint), on the other hand, some may say it is a painting that serves to brings peace to the mind with the soft hues of white, grey and light-lavender that brings a soft tonal effect. As seen, interpretations can be extremely diverse and independent of an understanding the artist’s intent and the context within which it was created. Yet, they are perfectly acceptable, reasonable and valid.

In conclusion, Art is about an individual making her own connections with the art. It need not be based on the original ideals of the Artist. As long as the individual feels the unique connection with a piece of art, and wants to interpret it her own way, I would say that she is free to do so and her interpretation should not be judged.

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