I recently came across an opinion that art intended for sale is less pure than noncommercial art:
“I think, because [Van Gogh] never sold a painting during his lifetime, it’s pure art. Artists, when they sell their first piece, start to see their art through the customer’s or dealer’s eyes. It changes the work, and IMHO, diminishes its purity. The art starts to have a purpose; making money. If it has a purpose, then it’s a craft.
I disagree. Elevating one piece of art over another based on the notion of “purpose” overlooks two defining elements shared by all artworks: a) intent of the author; b) interpretation of the audience.
Most artists create work with a goal in mind. Even when the intent is as high-level as “to inspire” or “to educate”, that purpose results in functionality. Additionally, most art serves as a mode of communication, and thus seeks an audience – the more the better. Does recognition in the form of critical acclaim really make a piece more worthy than would monetary compensation?
Besides, we experience the world through the lens of our histories; looking at the same piece, you see something different than I. So to me, the audience’s interpretation is more critical a factor than the original intent for the work.