An abstract artwork hangs inconspicuously on the wall outside the lecture hall. Few bother to give it a second look. “Meaningless splotches of paint on canvas,” says a friend. “Looks like kindergarten art,” says another.   

But mount the same artwork with a European baroque frame, hang it in a swanky art gallery where you have to pay to go in, the ‘splotches of paint’ take on a different significance.

Indeed, context matters. It changes interpretation. It changes the meanings of forms. Which reminds me of my visit to the Tate Gallery in Liverpool last December.