Jotting down a quick thought process I had a few days ago regarding the function of art in society.
We tend to evaluate the merit of a work of art taking into account the larger socio-cultural context in which it was created. This implies that an artwork cannot be consumed fully without consideration for the greater context in which it was created, it has a dependency on it’s context. Since society is constantly changing, this context is also constantly changing, so we look back at artworks created five, ten, hundred or a thousand years ago as outsiders to the context in which it was created.
The magic realisation I had was that artworks become artifacts or symbols of passed contexts. They become tools allowing us insight into a context of thinking and being that has passed, that is no more. We should therefore not just appreciate art for it’s intrinsic aesthetic merit and commentary, but also as an artifact providing insight into a fleeting moment or truth that we left behind.