Aside from its Ancient Greek origins (once upon a time, you couldn't call yourself 'educated' without continually referring to the ancient Greeks), it's very simple. It's one art form trying to describe another art form to try to explain the attraction of something those viewing the work cannot appreciate for themselves.
I haven't done this a lot, but in a couple of stories, I've included an artistic tertiary character, and to help readers get a feel for the character, I describe their artwork, describing the style, how it fits into a particular art movement and how the artist's style fits into her lifestyle and personality. It's a bit of work, but it gives readers a better appreciation of who the character is by giving them a peek into their heads, so they can see how they view the work and thinks of things.
Of course, if you're trying to describe things you don't quite understand, it can go horribly wrong, very quickly.