Re: "Meaning" what does that mean?
In response to the original question of the topic, I'd have to say that meaning is always present in Art - whether given by it's creator or by the viewer (or both), meaning is what connects us and the viewer to what we make. There is, however, a distinction between the intent (or concept) behind the work and it's "meaning". As an example: I made some small pieces many years ago called the "Chair Series". This work was intended to have all "meaning" placed on it by the viewer. My personal thoughts behind each of the 7 pieces was inconsequential to the work. But if asked about it, I could speak to the concept (the idea) behind the work - Leaving the "meaning" of it to the viewer. I intentionally wanted the pieces to be vague in any specific purpose, I simply created small vignettes of people interacting with chairs and let the imagination of the viewer fill in all the blanks. This distinction between "meaning" and "intent" seem to be at the core of a lot of these types of discussions. Personally, I feel that an artist should have a grasp on why they create what they do (beyond "I like to make stuff"). An artist needs to be aware of the interaction between viewer and art. That's why we step back from our work - to see that all the elements are working together. We're putting ourselves in the eye of the viewer and seeing if it all makes sense. When it doesn't, we make corrections, but it's in that moment of stepping back that we are examining the "meaning" of the work. Are we communicating to the viewer? Is the work striking a chord within us (and therefor the viewer as well)? The specifics of the meaning are unimportant. Some of us have very specific things we want to communicate and others have more of a feeling. It's all communication, it's all meaning. For those artists who insist that their work is devoid of all meaning, then perhaps they don't understand themselves or give themselves enough credit - or perhaps somewhere in their past they got labeled and decided that nothing would ever be labeled again. It doesn't matter, we make things because we are communicating something from within ourselves (whether consciously or unconsciously). I do believe that we (like other communicators) should have an understandable meaning, and when that meaning is completely misunderstood, then that work has failed. If you wanted to make a work about anger (representational or abstract) and all the viewers saw it as a whimsical representation of laughter, then you've failed. There's nothing wrong with failure. We say things all the time that are misunderstood, but it's in the learning of what we said wrong that makes us say it right next time. Art fails all the time, but we somehow feel that it is infallible simply because it's art. Learn to say what you want through your art and don't be afraid to stutter along the way.