Not to put words in Professor Viera’s mouth, but I don’t think he means that beauty is irrelevant, rather that it’s not what necessarily draws him to a work of art or what he finds most valuable in it. He’s apparently more interested in the ideas and narratives that the art is communicating and how they are communicated.
Of course, we can say none of that matters. When I see a certain shape or color in a Laotian or Ghananian weaving or in a modern painting but don’t know its significance to the artist, does it make a difference? Is my experience richer when I do know the “story” the artist intended to convey through those symbols or colors? Will the story evoke an emotion or idea other than what originally arose in me upon viewing the work?
Questions to reflect and comment on:
Do you find it important to know the context (cultural, historical, political) of a work of art? If so, why? If not, why?