Who decides what a work of art means?

Use the following questions and related media as a way to initiate dialogue about contemporary art and specific ideas related to where art is seen, how it is made, and who makes it. Related images and video segments should inspire a variety of responses and provoke new ways of thinking about possible answers.

Who decides what a work of art means: the artist, the critic, the viewer, history?


Matthew Barney. "CREMASTER 5," 1997. Production still. Photo by Michael James O'Brien, © Matthew Barney. Courtesy Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York.

"The stories themselves are somewhat interchangeable. In a sense, they're kind of carriers. In other words, Cremaster 2 could have had a couple of other stories other than Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song to carry it. The Executioner's Song was its carrier, in that the Rocky Mountains were the real story."
—Matthew Barney

Watch: Do-Ho Suh in "Stories"