The usage of “first word” vs “last word” art is interesting to think of as a continuum not only for art in general but also in terms of pieces of art. I think as time goes on, art can be recontextualized from one to the other, based on how much one knows about a piece and its artist. “First word” art can turn into “last word” art in the eyes of those who are trying to analyze, represent, or explore similar themes to those that the original artist was trying to explore. Additionally the cultural values and the zeitgeist of a certain society greatly impacts what is considered “first word” or “last word.” For example, during the 18th Century many western societies viewed ancient Greek statues and architecture largely as “last word” art, valuing a pristine, white aesthetic, while today it is viewed as “first word” art as well. This might be due to the discovery that these statues were once painted and full of vibrant colors, or the influx of artists doing new sculptures emulating the ancient Greeks, or even the rise of Vaporwave aesthetics involving busts and the broken statues that remain today.

Today as artists develop communities that value different facets of art from the past, they will tend to view these pieces as more “first word” if they are exploring the medium in new ways and “last word” if they are trying to embody a similar style or make more “last word” art themselves.