2 min read
05 Sep

Meaning in Art or Does Artwork needs to have a message?

The ultimate goal for every artist is acceptance by a wide and diverse audience. 

Meaning, the more people like my art, the better. Obvious, right? 

But what's the secret? 

I believe, the secret is interaction! 

Interaction between the artwork and the viewer.

But how does it work??

There are different layers of information in every artwork, like little messages on different levels, for example there can be an intellectual message, the unique style is a message, the technique, but the most important one, the one which captures the widest audience is the emotional message.

Obviously these messages are strongly connected to cultural and social circumstances and therefore content is most important.

All of these messages together make the MEANING of the artwork.

Meaning in an artwork is more important than style and skill, because it is the ultimate purpose of creative work.

An artist can be exceptional in technique and style, but if he/she fails to deliver the different layers of information, which all together resemble the meaning of the work, this work is boring  and worthless.

I read something about it in 'The Herald' once, which pretty much sums it up: 

“The overall objective of an artwork lies less in aesthetic value, because beauty without meaning is like a stunningly attractive model that is also illiterate.” 

Does this sound boring???  A little bit, I know :-(

Ok, let's talk practical things. 

It is really pretty easy! 

Interaction means communication, right? 

Between the artwork/the artist and the viewer. 

Therefore, as an artist I must rely on my experiences, inspirations and aspirations in encrypting my work with messages that are significant to many people and easy to understand. Translated: Show yourself in your art!

It all sounds complicated, but let's look at a painting!

Let's take one of mine :-)

Mother and daughter!

To find out if a piece of art has a meaning for you, use these 3 steps ( although, I dare to say, if an artwork has a meaning for you, you will know immediately)

1. Look

2. See

3. Think

So look at what’s there, literally right in front of you. Start with the most basic: what medium or material is it – a photograph, an object, a painting? How does it look? Rough and quick? Slick and neat? Shiny? Dirty? Carefully made? Thrown together?The artist will have made some very deliberate decisions about the materials, style and approach, and these will feed directly into the overall feel and meaning of the work.

Now see what else is there.What’s the difference between looking and seeing in the context of art? Looking is about literally describing what is in front of you, while seeing is about applying meaning to it. When we see we understand what is seen as symbols, and we interpret what’s there in front of us. 

Finally think about what you have observed so far and possible meanings. And this is a very individual thing, or interpretation, if you prefer.You know a lot more about this piece of art in front of you, than you are aware of.

Let's go!

Look at the work! It is a picture, a wall hanging, not painted, but made of textiles. Why textiles? It is bright, has friendly colours. Material, style and approach will tell you something about me. There are 2 women, they look similar, one has grey hair, she is probably older, the other one is young, they are looking at each other. The older one is wearing a pendant with a picture of the younger one. Now look at the label! The title is 'Mother and Daughter'. This explains a lot. The title is key!

What can you see?

Mother and daughter, the daughter is grown up, they look very similar, have they got similar personalities? They look at each other, there seems to be a close relationship. The mother literally has her daughter close to her heart, the pendant. Somehow, however, they look a little sad. Why?

They both have colourful fruits and flowers on their heads, strong symbols for girl/woman ( flowers) and fullness, harvest, plenty, wealth (the fruit).

Now think, interpret and give meaning to what you have drawn together. What do you know about the artist, me, in this case, even you don't know me? More than you think!You know from my artist statement that I was born in Germany, my daughter is probably born in Germany, perhaps she is still there? Is that why they look sad? But they have a connection, they show a closeness, they love each other? The mother carries her daughters picture, is she proud of her?  

Well, if you carry on like this, you will figure out what this particular artwork means for you. You will bring your own experiences into it, perhaps your relationship to your daughter or mother etc.

Most people were touched by this picture. 

I sold the original immediately, but I could have sold it 4 more times. I also sold many prints and I still get messages about it on social media.

So it obviously has a meaning for some people.

But the funny thing about it is....I didn't plan any of it! I just started a new piece and thought of my daughter while working on it :-)

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