Many of us think that the interpretation of a work of art is a task only for people who have experience in this field, that is artists, critics or art historians. But in fact, each of us has the opportunity to create our own interpretations!
Schools do not usually learn how to interpret artworks themselves. Instead of giving advice, students usually meet with ready-made interpretations or try to guess what the artist meant when he created.
This creates a problem when we want to understand what a work of art is really about, what its creator wanted to convey through it. Going beyond the established framework may seem very difficult. There is a fear that one’s own interpretation will be incorrect. However, it is worth pointing out that the interpretation of art is not as difficult as we might think!
What is art, really?
However, it is worth starting from scratch, namely from what is hidden under the very concept of art. This word is used to describe a part of the cultural heritage of human civilization, which is manifested, among others, by various artistic works.
In fact, it is a very broad definition, since it is difficult to indicate clearly what art really is. Its boundaries are fluid and the definition is not closed. It is also worth remembering that definitions of art have changed over the centuries. In ancient times, art was identified with craftsmanship, nowadays it has become a new branch of the entertainment industry.
Art can also fulfill various functions, for example aesthetic, social or didactic, but in fact they are not the essence of art and their fulfillment is not necessary for a specific work to be called art. Therefore, modern concepts of art are no longer based on the assumption that art has to be aesthetic – a work of art does not have to be pleasing to the eye to be called art.
As a result, art in modern times has different varieties. There are also opinions that almost anything that is called art can actually be art because there is no clear definition of what art should be.
In fact, we, as recipients, can define what art is and is not art. This is perfectly visible on the example of contemporary art, which is very different from the one from centuries ago. For some it is a perfect example of art, for others it is not, because it differs significantly from the works of artists from centuries ago.
However, the most important thing is to realize that there is no one and only correct interpretation of a work of art. Although it may seem that the one prepared by a well-known art critic or historian is the most appropriate one, each of us can create interpretations that have equivalent value to those prepared by more experienced people.
There is no ready-made set of questions to ask when interpreting a work of art. Since there are no unambiguous rules in this case, there is also no system of judgments from which one can indicate that a particular interpretation of a work of art is correct or not.
Thus, there are no unambiguous answers in the interpretation of works of art – each of us can find something different in the works, can pay attention to other factors that make us reflect, can describe in a different way the feelings that accompany his reception of the work.
This information can now be found very easily in museums that present profiles of artists and their works, but also on the Internet, where we have a number of helpful data on art at our fingertips.
Of course, as we mentioned earlier, these factors are not necessary to interpret the work, but they can be helpful in reading the context and intentions of the artist that accompanied the creative process. However, we must remember that the individual interpretation of a work of art goes beyond this framework!