In order for any work of art—whether film, literature, sculpture, or a song—to have merit, it must be understandable to most people.
The speaker's assertion that art must be understandable to most people to have merit is wrongheaded. Misunderstanding the very nature of work of art, the speaker fails to recognize the final objective of art, which has less to do with the majority appreciation than with individual satisfaction.
Turning first to the function of art, which we have a way of thinking, is provision of pleasure to most people at its most common place. As a matter of fact, it is the other way around. According to what Freud has said, art, in essence, is a kind of release of individual lust, converting the human libido into plentiful creativity. It is through the work of art that artists express their passions, emotions, and desires. From this we can see, art is therefore, first and foremost, concerning with the inner world rather than with the outside one as a whole. The film <8/1/2> directed by the famous Italian director Federico Fellini brings immediately to mind. Albeit appreciated by only a tiny fraction of the sophisticated film critics, this great autobiographic film explores the director’s innermost being and still wins the world's highest honor. The fact of first-rate importance is the predominant role that a creator plays in evaluating the artwork, and the various characteristics he or she will manifest.
In addition, if the description of discovering the merit of artwork as “mission impossible” remains controversial, it is certain that the task, which is difficult to accomplish, takes time. Understanding the artistic work is anything but an abrupt process. It calls for the admirers’ gradual penetration into the artwork so as to truly apprehend the connotative meaning. The paintings of Van Gogh, for example, now recognized as among the greatest in the impressionism style, were deemed as worthless even by the connoisseurs of its time. Beethoven's early listeners, again, accustomed to the predictable harmonies and melodic lengths of Hayden, dismissed his symphonies as literally causing their hearts to hurt. There’s no denying the fact that artwork will lose its value without the adoration of its time.
Put another way, the difficulty of understanding the work of art does not, and will hardly mask its own merit. Artwork presents us with insight into what is eternal and universal while at the same time, does not give full regards to whether the appreciators really understand it or not. Nor will the artist easily yield to the public at the expense of self-expressing as well as self-realization. Beauty, many would insist, maintains aesthetically in spite of the fact that few can wholly depict the very essence of it. Interpretation in terms of meaning is meaningless. The same is true with art. The pictures of Picasso, though elusive at its appearance, contributed a lot to the development of cubistic style. The sculptures of Daley, seem puzzled to most of the audience, still took a lead in the modern art. Were the test for meritorious art were its ability to be dearly understood by every observer, then our most valuable art would simply imitate the mundane physical world around us.
In the final analysis, art, from its originality, should distinguish itself from the appreciation by the majority or minority. To be acceptable by most people is one thing while to have merit is another. Art can have significance as long as it shows self-expression of its creator. Only by permeating into the very substance of art can one truly find the merit of art.