A valid interpretation of an artwork is dependent on an understanding of the artist’s intent and the context in which it was created.
I feel that a valid interpretation of art does is dependent on an understanding of the context in which it was created. However, I feel that a valid interpretation is not dependent on the artist’s intention although it is important. I define a valid interpretation as one that is meaningful and is not superficial. I also think that there can be more than one valid interpretation for the same artwork.
Firstly, I do feel that a valid interpretation can only be made with an understanding context. This is because what an artist is trying to express in his art may not literal or that the images carry a special meaning, specific to a certain context For example, in the case of Srikandi by Lucia Hartini. If one does not understand the background of the artist, one would not understand why she painted a confident woman seemingly repelling floating eyes and the significance of such a painting. However with an understanding of the context, one would possibly understand the symbolism of floating eyes (which represent how society views women) and why she dressed the woman in blue cloth (women warriors who used to protect the feudal kings were dressed in blue). Without knowing the context, a viewer could possibly interpret the work as artist is trying to portray someone as a confident woman, unable to understand why she painted it. This would be a rather superficial interpretation.
Furthermore, with an understanding of the context of the work, one would understand why the artist used certain techniques in the work and the significance of doing so. For example, the romanticist used emotive colours and brushwork; in today’s context this would not be particularly shocking or surprising as we are already exposed to more shocking techniques of art. However, in that time, this was revolutionary. As art then was used to copy nature, hence to express such emotions through art was unheard of. Thus romantic works carries a meaning of breaking away from tradition, changing the definition of art.
I feel that an understanding of the artist intention is important but one should have their own judgment in interpreting a work and not be completely swayed by the artist’s intention. Understanding is important as it allows for further understanding of the work and helps the viewer to draw the link between the context and work. For example, in ready-mades in Dadaism, the context is World War 1 and the work is randomly chosen objects. However the link between the 2 is still rather unclear. With the understanding that the artist’s intention was to shock and mock serious art intention as artist felt that humans were too inhumane, the link is clearer and the work is more easily understandable. However, I do feel that one should look at the work without the knowledge of the artist’s intention and develop one’s own interpretation. Later, when one knows about the artist intention, one can rethink one’s own interpretation and decide on a final interpretation. I feel that the artist intention can influence one’s interpretation but should not be dependent on it.
Therefore, I feel that understanding of the context and the artist’s intention would allow us better appreciate the work and have a better interpretation of the work! (: