Can art be of importance without meaning? Must “good” art convey the zeitgeist of the times in which it absolutely was created? Does “depth of meaning” correlate directly to “goodness” of art?
A definition of terms here will be of value but the terms in question are very based on individual and subjective opinion that the defintions will be questioned.
Abstract painting, specially the nonobjective painting of numerous artists since the 1940s is arguably without meaning. In fact many artists want it that way. They prefer to see purely compositional factors, the tenets of design while the measure of their works. Does this relegate them to the degree of design, not truly “high art.”
Abstract paintings can perform two things. 1) They are able to ascend to the highest amount of design, and 2) they might transcend it to “high art.” Just as Kurt Schwitters paper snips transcend the craft of hobbyists cutting paper, and Joseph Cornell’s boxes transcend the craft of cabinet makers or box designers – so can an abstract paintings transcend design.
The criteria of meaning needs some discussion within my opinion. The “meanings” that some narrow-sighted critics refer to to be the paramount criterion of “high art” revolve around historic, philosophic, and religious dimensions. These meanings purportedly reflect the highest ideals and aspirations of man and god(God?).
I appreciate meanings as much as the next person. I such as the classical, epic struggles of mythology, the ancient renditions of the history of the world, the religious icons of each and every century, the struggles of mankind and every individual in mankind. These are wonderful meanings and certainly worthy of artistic depiction.
Now consider the meaning of a man/woman who struggles to create pure beauty. The artist. The artist who wants to create not only “high art” but does so minus the tools of religious thought, minus the maps of cultural revolutions, minus the applause of an educated and socially motivated political movement, minus the traditions of a craftsmens guild abstract photos. Look at this courageous individual.
These individuals not only attempt real, although only mortal, creation at its highest level – they achieve this in an original and hardwon individual style. Additionally, their work is meant to free, enhance and amplify your perception of art and beauty in every one of its mysterious manifestations.
That “is” meaning. You can witness this meaning in its visual record of every abstract painting. No, not every painting is a masterpiece – and it can’t fall back on cliche’or a cultural nomenclature. It stands as a testament to a real battle to push something to the highest amount of art without any help from all the other “manifold meaning packages” that were the cause of art in previous centuries.