Whilst the context surrounding a piece of work usually enlightens its content to some extent, it’s easy to see that the work’s subject matter is more significant. The subject matter can stand alone and be appraised: a painting can be enjoyed without knowing the painter, a song can be enjoyed without knowing the singer, amongst other examples. Knowledge of the creator is simply an addition to the piece: it can improve appreciation, but it is more likely to improve an already positive impression than to change a negative one to a positive one for instance. The latter example would suggest a piece of work too reliant on its context rather than its actual substance.
The artist has more control over the subject as the artist acts as a creative zeitgeist, whether their art is satire or provocative. This can be said for “cult” artists, writers, musicians et al., where the aura of their personality becomes as important as the work itself. Sure, subjects will appear universal, the subjects don’t really change, for example, love and relationships. The part where art is recognised is through the revolutionary methods and approaches that creators and artists develop. A striking example of this is the move from Impressionism to Cubism, pioneered by Picasso. The pioneering innovations of artistic genius is something that cannot be ignored. For, if it were, most art forms would just be imitations and ending up being the same to what went before. It is also important to consider the effect of legacy, the more ground-break an artist (e.g. David Bowie on society and music) the more varied the impact and influence they have.