Hans-Georg Gadamer says in an article on historicality and hermeneutics:
…the judgment of contemporary works of art is desperately uncertain for the scientific consciousness… the permanent significance of something can first be known objectively only when it belonds within a self-contained context. In other words, when it is dead enough to have only historical interest. Only then does it seem possible to exclude the subjective involvement of the observer.
So contemporary art cannot be judged with any accuracy, because we are within its time period and therefore our judgments are burdened with biases that are invisible to us. But does that have to mean that once we are able to contextualize and fairly judge a piece of art, it is dead and has no real meaning anymore? (Even asking this question sort of presupposes that a sort of “objectivity” in judging art is a goal in the first place, something I have a problem with.)
There are lots of little irritating issues like this in critical theory. This one just happened to jump out at me as I was reading tonight.