Tom Smith sees art plain:
And now for some deep thoughts about Art. I think the heart of the problem is not that artists take themselves too seriously, but that everybody else takes them too seriously. People forget that art is fundamentally interior decoration. And occasionally outdoor decoration. The job of art is to produce stuff that rich people want to buy and put on their walls or in their gardens because it is nice to look at, or use, if you are talking about, for example, pots. Rich people here includes rich institutions, such as the Catholic Church. That is, contrary to what Ms. Something or Other of Yale says, art is a commodity. Well, maybe not a commodity. In justice, I suppose frequently it qualifies as a unique good for purposes of commercial law. But just a good. This notion that markets make bad art, is just the opposite of true. Institutions supporting art for non-market reasons produces bad art — political art, ideological art, art about issues, and so on. Dreadful stuff. Art produced for markets produces stuff you can imagine wanting to buy if you had the money.
I think a good rule of thumb is that if a piece of art has to be explained to you before you can see why anybody would bother to make it or look at it, you are wasting your time looking at it. One useful thing about repellent performance art, such as videos of abortions, is that it disabuses people of their earnest middle class sentiment that art will somehow improve or elevate them, if only by opening their minds. It can do that, but it has to start with something else, and it has to have something to improve you and elevate you with, which is not going to be art itself. I suspect that governments giving money to artists has done a lot to promote bad art. Finally, there is a lot of shockingly dreadful Marxist theory of art stuff out there, which I advise you to avoid.
A tangentially related post is here.