Does art with intention sell better?

Today I would like to invite you to another thought experiment about our perception of art: Can my appreciation of art, my personal feelings, change if I know the artist’s story or intention, if he or she has one? If so, why can it change our aesthetic perception? Does the story/intention distort our pure, innermost first impression of an artwork? Is it bad if art is simply beautiful and has no story or intention?

As an art lover, I’ve often found myself wondering about the role of the artist’s intention in our perception and appreciation of their work. Can our understanding of an artwork be changed if we know the artist’s story or what he or she were trying to express? 

Of course, self-promotion and presentation are a very important part of an artist’s work and, among other things, form the essential basis for increasing the value of his or her art – that’s just how the art market works. Therefore, I will leave this aspect out of this thought experiment. I would only like to refer to one’ s own, personal perception.

Just some random rectangles in a frame. No artist. No intention.

Different experiences, different perceptions

Our perceptions are shaped by our own personal experiences and worldview, and so any new information we learn about an artist changes the way we see their work. 

For example, if we know that an artist struggled with mental illness, we may see his or her paintings in a very different light. We may see them as expressions of inner turmoil rather than just beautiful paintings – this can add new depth and meaning to the work. Similarly, if we know that an artist was trying to convey a certain message with his or her work, we may see it in a different light.

But these are all things that I do not know during my first impression. Is my perception of the artwork not purest and most unadulterated then?
What if I want to conserve this first impression, this feeling during my first viewing?

In this case, am I not experiencing art as it should be experienced? Is it wrong if art is simply beautiful? Or to look at it another way: Does the quality of art change if there is no intention or backstory? Would we as viewers feel a difference? Can art be made more beautiful retrospectively through interpretation?

What are your thoughts on this thought experiment? I look forward to exchanges via Twitter or leave me a comment below this article!

Aesence is a creative studio and digital design magazine with a high curatorial approach. Founded by Sarah Dorweiler, a creative mind and entrepreneur from Berlin, her goal is to capture the feeling of harmony, balance and inner peace in her curatorial work and photography.