Can art be worth addressing without meaning? Must “good” art convey the zeitgeist of the times where it was created? Does “depth of meaning” correlate right to “goodness” of art?
A definition of terms here could be of value however the terms under consideration are very predicated on individual and subjective opinion that the defintions could be questioned.
Abstract painting, particularly the nonobjective painting of many artists because the 1940s is arguably without meaning. In reality many artists want it that way. They choose to see purely compositional factors, the tenets of design as the measure of their works. Does this relegate them to the degree of design, not truly “high art.”
Abstract paintings may do two things. 1) They can ascend to the highest amount of design, and 2) they may transcend it to “high art.” Just like 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 around another person. I like the classical, epic struggles of mythology, the ancient renditions of the history of the entire world, the religious icons of each century, the struggles of mankind and every individual in mankind abstract painting large. They are wonderful meanings and certainly worthy of artistic depiction.
Now consider this is of a man/woman who struggles to produce pure beauty. The artist. The artist who would like to create not merely “high art” but does so minus the tools of religious thought, minus the maps of cultural revolutions, minus the applause of the best and socially motivated political movement, minus the traditions of a craftsmens guild. Consider this courageous individual.
These individuals not merely attempt real, although only mortal, creation at its highest level – they do this in an original and hardwon individual style. In addition, their work is supposed to free, enhance and amplify your perception of art and beauty in all its mysterious manifestations.
That “is” meaning. You are able to witness this meaning in its visual record of each abstract painting. No, don’t assume all painting is really a masterpiece – and it can’t fall back on cliche’or a social nomenclature. It stands as a testament to a genuine struggle to push something to the highest amount of art without any help from all the other “manifold meaning packages” which were the reason for art in previous centuries.