There have been stories of people who can understand and appreciate even abstract art forms, like dots on a white canvas. There are even more minimalistic art forms out there, selling for millions. To someone, that is a dot on a white canvas, to others, that is a work of art. What determines whether we can appreciate something as a work of art? Education, art history knowledge, personal taste? It depends. Plenty of things can affect us and determine whether we can understand and appreciate art.
Education and Knowledge
If you are educated on the history of art, it is much more likely that you will be able to appreciate and understand art, modern or otherwise. Whether through high school, college or a keen interest in the history and culture surrounding art, one is able to understand many different forms of art, and not just renaissance statues and paintings. But, understanding art does not mean liking art. Those are two different things, which are very subjective. Ask any person, any art student, and they will have a different favorite art period, which is most likely to change during their lives.
To someone who is a mechanic, a work of art might seem a bit difficult to process, especially if it is abstract. Statues they might comprehend sooner than they would abstract paintings. For people who are absolutely not in any way connected to art, analogies might help to understand and appreciate what art has been doing and what it means to us. History lessons also help, because art and history are tied to one another. The culture of the period, the historic events all helped shape art, and vice versa. When someone is explained the values of art and their connection to our everyday lives, they will most likely be able to understand it, liking being a different story.
Some People Might Refuse to Understand
Some people might decide to be the black sheep, intentionally failing to comprehend the value and meaning of art. We have all experienced dialogues and conversations which are simply put acoustics, because no meaning is being transferred from one person to another, because one of the two is refusing to process any input. People can comprehend art, all of them, but some are going to refuse.
Art, like most things in this world, can be understood by almost anyone. That being said, not everyone is going to want to understand art, and not everyone should if they are not interested. Art has been here and will remain, with plenty of people to understand and appreciate it, and create new art along the way.