I came across this article by Michael Kimmelman in the International Herald Tribune last week. He reviewed the Edward Hopper exhibition at the Fondazione Roma Museo. Here are a few quotes that caught my eye:
"No matter how much culture has become globalized, art retains meanings specific to a certain time and place..."
"We like the idea of universal art because most artists make work that they hope gains universal appeal and can speak to anybody who’s interested; because art’s formal values are supposed to transcend borders and ages; and because we can’t help fantasizing about the virtues of a global society. We imagine walking into any art museum, whether in Toronto or Timbuktu, and, up to a point at least, understanding the pictures and sculptures. But it’s often what we can’t understand that is most distinctive and enduring about the work."
"But culture’s ultimate value is in difference. Art is supposed to provide us with one-of-a-kind experiences. We make and consume it to share with others, the more people the better, but also to affirm our individuality, our links to specific things, places, values and people. Universality is useful to the art market but a concept still underexamined and overrated."