And the inevitable question is: When a curious, open-minded (hopefully) audience wanders about an art museum and looks upon a range of objects laid out before them, should they evaluate these pieces of work based on their knowledge of the social, religious, and cultural components associated with that object? or, shall the viewer rely solely on their innate, sixth-sense-esque aesthetic eye?
Some art historians believe strictly in one side, others in the other, while a number of historians believe that we can claim a middle ground, where a balance takes place between the lively, freedom-filled aspect, and the logical, very informative side.
I found this "dilemma" to be very interesting, not only because it relates to art museums, and also to the relationship between the art piece and the viewer...Even more, it's interesting because it brings up the subject of human behavior into the art-themed picture. Before reading this chapter of the book, I never really considered that the two could be intertwined in the same sentences.
It's fascinating because how we see art depends almost entirely on how we decide to look at it. It all depends on perception...Or, I guess your perception of an artwork can't always be decided, because there will be times where, for example, a painting will remind you so much of Monet's paintings that you cannot help but tie in that association in with your interpretation of the piece.
But generally speaking, a human's mindset--his/her choice of whether or to be logical or aesthetic/visual--almost dictates how the Western world sees a piece of art. (And I say "Western world," and not the entire "world," because according to another chapter of this book, Westerners have claimed that "Primitive peoples" don't evaluate art in the contextualizing sense nor in the aesthetic sense--instead, they evaluate it on its level of usefulness). This kind of power we have over the impressions of canvases, sculptures, masks, and all other kinds of art has given me almost a chill in the spine!
Even if you've never read an art history textbook or have studied art in general, I'm sure you've at least thought somewhat of this subject at times that you've walked into an art museum/exhibit, right? :)
Enjoy your night!!