Culture has a major impact on an artist’s work. As well as providing the imminent background against which a work of art is created, it also invariably shapes what is actually produced. In some cultures, painting is the predominant art form, whereas in others it may be pottery or ceramics. In both cases, it is the dominant culture that determines what kind of artworks are to be produced, especially if there is a thriving art market that responds to changes in taste among collectors and connoisseurs.
Even if an individual artist has a strong antipathy to the cultural milieu in which they live, as is often the case, they will still define themselves against that culture, challenging its norms and standards. Without some kind of settled cultural life, art, no matter how transgressive or innovative, is simply impossible.
But culture doesn’t tell us everything about a work of art. The greatest works of art transcend the time and place in which they were created to speak to successive...
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