Yesterday, in the followup discussion regarding what I said saying something through our art, almost without realizing it, I implied an art hierarchy based upon the purposes art serves in our lives, ending by equating much of it to the pursuit of sexual self-pleasure. In the process, I may have given the impression of denigrating such pursuits. That was not my intent. There should be no doubt that like landscapes, still-lifes, portraits, etc., masturbation serves it's purposes. It's safe sex, just as the above painting types are "safe" art. And like the paintings subjects above, it brings pleasure to the senses. Both are perfectly valid forms of pleasure. Many great artists, Monet for example, have excelled at this form of painting. And where they've done so in new, exciting, and beautiful ways, they've been so honored.
Art for art's sake explores the subject of art itself, wherein the artist pushes, pulls, challenges, and experiments with the visual possibilities in the various mediums. IF it has a message, the message is about ART, rather than the human condition. Most nonrepresentational art falls into this category or possibly BOTH these categories. And like those artist in the first category, our museums are full of work by those who have first struggled into these frontiers and opened our eyes to the visual potential of the physical and intellectual use of the colored pigments which we worship.
And finally, there is the art that speaks, often CRIES OUT, an unmistakable message ABOUT the artist or FROM the artist regarding something he or she feels strongly about. In some cases those feelings are SO strong they go beyond the bounds of acceptable social tastes (for their time) in trying to make themselves heard above the static of normal life or to say with the greatest emphasis what the artists hopes to communicate. Most Expressionist art falls into this category, as does narrative art (rare today), and most of the shock (schlock) that makes newspaper headlines and people mad. Whether we like it or HATE it, this, to my way of thinking, is art's highest calling--it makes us THINK. And thinking is the highest calling of any human being. It's what separates us from earth's lower life forms.