Artists need freedom to express political opinions, or to show explicit content. Artistic opinions might offer a social conscience, or point out ironies in our culture. The outrageous perspectives of underground cartoonists unsettle the status quo.
This focus on the artist's opinions is why advertising art is held in such low regard: the corporate advertiser, not the artist, controls the content.
But making art involves all kinds of opinions, not just opinions about content. It involves opinions about how to describe form, opinions about abstraction, opinions about design. Visual opinions such as these are equally present in advertising art and museum art.
Here is an advertisement drawing by Austin Briggs with a real point of view:
It has no political or social content but man, what an opinion! To me, it makes much of today's "social commentary" art look spineless.
Here is a series of drawings by Briggs for newspaper ads in the 1950s. The social commentary is nonexistent but look at his powerful choices and robust lines describing form:
Briggs had opinions about where to apply emphasis. He had opinions on how to convey vitality. He had opinions on how to depict folds in heavy cloth:
I like Briggs' opinion on how to abstract a little girl's dress:
Here is a sample of one of Briggs' original sketches for this series of ads so you can see how he worked:
I agree that in some cases, this type of commentary can be a higher form of art than the visual choices in a good drawing. But I've also listened patiently to lectures by artists such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin in which they discuss the opinions underlying their art. They may be eloquent, but I often find their social commentary simple minded and their politics juvenile.
When I decide where to spend my time, I weigh those social opinions against the opinions about form manifest in really good drawing. Often, I find that plain good drawing-- even with no ironic content-- is more enriching. Of course, that's just an opinion.