The Appeal of Art


Rayven Stuart, Writer

1915, Kazimir Malevich has just created one of the most infamous paintings in the world, “Black Square.”  The painting consisted of merely a black square with a white background. That is it. That is the painting. Yet, it is still considered a very notable work of art despite not having much content, or much content at all. The painting is labeled as being “abstract.” This is interesting because abstract art is the use of shapes and colors to represent something real. However, what does a black square with a white background have to do with the representation of something within reality? Malevich believed his black square represented feelings and many artists would agree. Behind the painting was a man with a life and a perception on the world that he expressed through his abstract artworks. Many people consider his artwork to be appealing, not for the visuals of it, but for the story behind it.

1923, only a few years after Kazimir’s “Black Square,” another abstract painting is born. The name of this painting is “Composition VIII,” painted by Wassily Kandinsky. “Composition VIII” is a very popular painting of Kandinsky’s with just as much meaning behind it as Malevich’s “Black Square,” despite being more pleasing to look at. The contents between “Composition VIII” and “Black Square” are very much different when it comes to painting abstract. Wassily most definitely put more content into his work, using more than just one shape and color to express a vivid picture representing both calm and crazy aspects within life. This artwork was said to cause very great emotions to people who viewed it and could be considered much more visually pleasing to the eye than “Black Square.”

Two great examples of famous abstract artworks presented in the 1900’s who are both so similar, yet so different. These paintings may appeal to those depending on their preference, visual or meaningful. When it comes to what makes an artwork appealing, you must simply ask yourself “what about this painting appeals to me personally, rather than to others?”. Everybody has a personal preference, whether it be “I enjoy the visuals of art” or “I enjoy the stories or meaning behind art.” There’s is no right or wrong when it comes to deciding if a piece of artwork is enjoyable or not.

However, the preference of enjoying visuals more than meaning is rather more common among critics. Because art is such a common concept, there are more than just one select group of people judging a work. People who give no interest into story or meaning may see a painting, produce their view on it visually, and move on. But, many others who take interest in learning the backstory behind an artwork may find their views going beyond visuals, and those people will produce a more in depth view of the painting as whole.

The truth is, it is up to the critic to decide whether an artwork is appealing or not. The opinions of others are invalid when it comes to your thoughts and feelings and preferences when observing such art. Behind every artwork is a story, and some just like to look into these stories more than others. This does not necessarily make their opinions more valid, for no opinion is more valid than your own.