One of the golden rules in photography is the focal point of an image is dependent on two things: Sharpness and Highlights. The highlight part is pretty self explanatory, the brightest spot commands your visual processing first.
Sharpness is a little more tricky. There is two kinds of sharpness. Sharpness control through process such is the quality of your glass or stability or shutter speed. Secondly, sharpness controlled through contrast. This was accomplished in the darkroom with variable contrast filters or graded papers or with creating a traditional unsharp mask. In digital there are a plethora of post processing filters and techniques for increasing contrast. When we put a light pixel or piece of silver next dark one the images appears “sharper”. In reality the images is no sharper, your brain just perceives it as such.
In general we seem obsessed with “sharp” images. As an art photographer you can command a certain amount of attention and impact in your images with contrast. In the right hands it can be a truly orchestrated masterpiece and in the wrong hands a cheap parlor trick that feels like the gawkers that slow down to look at a traffic accident and then abruptly forget it a mile down the road.
A good photograph should not force the viewer to do anything. Highlights and sharpness can be a wonderful point of departure but if they are not complimented with composition and intention then they really lead nowhere, visual junk food.
As an art photographer it is to your advantage to find your feet in recognizing and understanding the role of sharpness in your work and I recommend exploring from one extreme to another. Look for pleasing effects in blurry or unfocused images and the richness of subtlety that hides in a good photograph that does not heavily rely on sharpness.