One of my favorite paintings is Zwei Am Meeresstrand (Two on a beach). I don’t know much about it, but to me it simply captures the feeling of walking down the beach with a loved one. That’s what it says to me. It may not be deep, but it is beautiful.
On the other hand, certain types of art I learn to appreciate only when I get to know the background of the artist and the piece itself. For example, I appreciated (though still do not enjoy) the infamous P*** Christ once a friend explained the background and intent of the work.
Is my appreciation of Zwei Am Meeresstrand incomplete because I don’t know the background? Or is P*** Christ lesser art since it needed an explanation? Should art stand on its own, or should it always be understood in context? What do you think?