RARA-AVIS: Public Acclain & "Masterpeices"/Street 8

From: Keith Alan Deutsch ( keithdeutsch@earthlink.net)
Date: 26 Apr 2000

I couldn't disagree more vigorously with Anthony Dauer's equation that a
"masterpeice" must have critical acclaim. It is unsound as logic, and as critical theory.

For instance, Moby Dick was ignored by critics (except basically those who hated it) sold nothing at all--and Melville's travel works were great best-sellers, so it wasn't that he was an unknown. In the 1950's Moby Dick was elevated to the great American novel.

Or look at Van Gogh---never sold a painting during his life. For a decade after his death they went for "pennies." Now he's one of the most "popular" masterpiece makers of all time.

Do you mean "literally" that Moby Dick or a late Van Gogh self-portrait was not a masterpiece UNTIL the public gave it acclaim?

And what is the value of Public acclaim in the standards by which we judge a work of art? For over a decade Rod McKuen sold more books of poetry than any other author in America, living or dead. Of course, that doesn't mean that they, or let's say the wildly popular Beverly Hillbillies are masterpieces, right?

If not, then what does pubic acclaim have to do with judging the quality and greatness of a work of art?


Anthony Dauer wrote:

> To be a "masterpiece" at least literally requires public acclamation ...
> doesn't mean the work isn't good, but if it's not popular it cannot by
> definition be a "masterpiece" ... bummer as that is. :)

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