On art, ego, and appropriation

(I commented on a post by a friend on Facebook and felt a need to share – and expand upon – it here):

Art isn’t about the artist.

It is about how the piece affects the people who view it. If an artist doesn’t like another artist that is irrelevant to the work – and they’re missing the point of the exercise. Any artist who claims ownership of the meaning of a piece of art once it is out in the world is just an egotist – and any person who judges art because of the artist is an idiot. The power of art is completely judged by the viewer. It makes no difference if the artist meant something if the viewer is affected by it in a different way. That doesn’t make it a failure, it makes it personal – which is as it should be. It might not have been what the artist intended, but it enriched the emotional experience of the viewer’s life.

As far as appropriation is concerned, viewing art is inherently appropriation on a very personal level – you are taking a personal statement from the artist and making it your own. Subject matter that affects the artist, or that an artist wants to bring into the spotlight isn’t appropriation – it is a signal boost – and, once again, has nothing to do with the artist.

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