What I saw before me was the critic-in-chief of The New York Times saying: In looking at a painting today, “to lack a persuasive theory is to lack something crucial.” I read it again. It didn’t say “something helpful” or “enriching” or even “extremely valuable.” No, the word was crucial.Go read it.
In short: frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can’t see a painting.
I believe I've brought it up before but it bears repeating: I am reminded of a scene from a Baen book I read a while back - Guns of Two Space - where attending a party on earth, one of the crew goes off on the "artists" present.
Skill and craft were addressed, notably the lack thereof in many works - and I agree that more detail/work isn't always emblematic of craft (note the story of Giotto drawing a perfect circle to demonstrate his skill as an artist).
The point of "you just don't get it" - also brought up in the post - was also addressed.
Basically, if part of what art is supposed to do is communicate, that accusation is an admission that the art is FAILING to communicate, except to the very few who study all the theorems needed to unlock it.
Kids may not get all the subtexts of a bugs bunny cartoon, but they're still going to enjoy Bugs and Elmer having it out to the strains of Barber of Seville....