The purpose of the audience

The idea of a viewer and audience pertaining to art is an interesting one. In the last class we discussed the audience and the viewer and Kaprow’s effort to “eliminate” the idea of an audience and merge life and art. I wonder about the value of art if there is no audience. If there is no one to appreciate the art, no one to affect, is it nothing more than personal gratification for the artist; simply done for the joy of the art making process? It is a nice thought that all art is done for this purpose, and I am sure that much of what is done today is.

However, it is human nature to want to interact and build relationships with the outside world. I can't say that it is not art if it does not affect people. But what makes great, famous pieces of art? Would Jackson Pollock still be an ingenious artist if the art world had not told us so? Who decides what will be the next great piece, because I have a feeling it is not the artist telling himself “this is the best piece of art ever made”. But then so often the greatest pieces are not particularly aesthetically pleasing. Is it how effective it is in communicating an idea to the audience, or could it be how different it is from what is currently being done in the art world? A combination of all of these ideas plays into what makes a great work, but I still feel that it is the energy and the emotional reaction that is evoked that makes Jackson Pollock’s work, more than his personal gratification. If not for audience interpretation, would there be any more “great works” of art?

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