Finally, there is a related and more important reason for needing newly contrived art: all man-made things die away, and art is just one more of our vulnerable contraptions. It is an invention of symbols, a culling out and intuitive reassembly of items from daily life, arranged so that they will point beyond themselves. Serious photography, no matter how ‘straight’ or apparently objective, is this sort of invention, and, like everything else we devise, it can be depended upon to quit working. Eventually the symbols so outlast their original context that they no longer effectively point anywhere, becoming instead only artifacts for the documentation of cultural history.
We welcome contemporary art, then, for its power to please the eye, to record the texture of current experience, and to invest that experience with meaning.
- Robert Adams, “Making New Art”