Quick summary: First Word Art exhibits traits of unseen styles, within its initial context; Last Word Art refines and adheres to previously developed styles and often stands the “test of time.” Right?
A medium; the visual, auditory, or experiential material; is often the main touchpoint between the artist and his/her audience (other touchpoints include the piece’s historical context or its contemporary context). Because it cannot be assumed a viewer knows the initial context of the piece, or has a recognition of its contemporary context, the distinction between First and Last word comes almost entirely through a viewer reading the material of the piece. The historical context of a piece can be academically important to understanding the evolution of culture, but most people who see art are not aware of that history. On an everyday practical level, the FW/LW distinction that stems from initial context of the piece is not functional to categorize works. The contemporary context of the piece, including the viewer’s prior artistic intake contribute more to a piece’s classification than the piece’s original context. Based on the previous experiences of the viewer, something LW may appear as FW or vice versa.
A better approach for categorization that is not mentioned in the paper could be separating and distinguishing individual traits of a piece. Each trait could be determined as FW or LW, rather than the piece as a whole. This proposed approach still has issues encompassing limited literacy of art. The approach does however open more discussion points, but people naturally do this if they discuss a piece of art.
Three final questions:
Is a piece LW if an artist attempts to refine a radical approach taken by an artist recently?
If the second artist becomes famous, and the first piece is lost, do they become FW?
What happens if breaking the rules is the convention?