Originally Posted by brianvds
The same goes even in such very abstract fields as music: one can explain to people the context of such things as Bach fugues, after which they have no difficulty in following his musical 'arguments,' and indeed a whole lot of other music by lots of other composers.
I disagree. I listen to and enjoy much modern jazz which many of my friends often find incomprehensible (eg. Sun Ra, Jack Walrath, Either/Orchestra). To them it sounds like nothing more than musicians tuning their instruments and 20 years ago I would've agreed with them. Over time I developed an ear for what these musicians had to offer, but no amount of explaining would make it comprehensible to others even if I knew what to explain, which I don't. All I know is that it's beautiful for me to listen to even though it once wasn't.
Works like Malevich's black square are more statements about art than they are art themselves. At the time it was created, it invited people to think about art in ways they had never thought about it before. To make that thinking worthwhile, however, a person has to have already developed some fundamental understanding of how and why modern art was deviating from the traditional. No amount of explaining a painting can substitute for that foundation, nor can it explain why trying to recapture the statement of that work today requires more than somebody just painting the same black square again (although artists have done that for other reasons!).