Journal: News & Comment

Wednesday, October 02, 2002
# 1:32:00 PM:

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Joshua Fineberg is talking about classical music, but these are wise words for any kind of art:

Art is not about giving people what they want. It's about giving them something they don't know they want. It's about submitting to someone else's vision. This is hardly ever discussed these days. [...]

In almost any era, the sheer mass of bad or mediocre work tends to dwarf the good or great works. This can lead us to assume that the past was somehow better, since we kept only the best parts and threw out the crap. I would venture to say that there have probably been more masterpieces created during the past 20 years than there were in the last 20 years of the 19th century (an easy bet, since the population is so much bigger now). We just haven't finished sorting the gems from the garbage yet. [...]

This was why culture became an undemocratic realm in the first place, and why attempts to democratize it may bear unwanted side effects. To find great art, we need people who are able and willing to go through those 10 million paintings on the off-chance of finding one masterpiece.


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