Although art once created is impervious to time and the beings that appraise it, its value is a product of its cultural moment. A joke that was funny in 1900 is likely to be understood quite differently a century later, despite being as novel to those who first encounter it today as it was when published. The art hasn’t changed. The cultural environment has – and audiences are a part of that. It’s possible we can still detect ‘cultural freshness’ aside from novelty, that a joke from 1900 has subtle cultural references we subconsciously recognise as stale. Similarly for music.

So perhaps the more detached a work of art is from its cultural environment (its zeitgeist) the more likely it will find appreciative audiences in the future, e.g. Mozart’s symphonies perhaps?

Popular art may be embraced and pervade the cultural moment, possibly even defining it, but that doesn’t consume the art. If anything it makes it more permanent, more likely to withstand the erosion of cultural memory. When the last copy of an artwork disappears, and when the last memory dies, only then could the art be said to have been consumed. Culturally ingested, any goodness enjoyed as it permeates our culture, and finally excreted. However, though forgotten at least it lives on as a contribution to humanity – who without it may have been the lesser for it.