Friday, May 1, 2009

Peer review

Imagine if the arts were just like science, pervaded with peer review and groupthink. Here's what you'd get:

Eduard Manet wrote to his colleague Claude Monet, of Renoir: "He has no talent at all, that boy. Tell him to give up painting."

"Rembrandt was regarded as not comparable with an extraordinarily gifted artist, Mr. Ripingill."

William Blake spoke of Titian and the Venetians as "such idiots are not artists."

Degas regarded Toulouse-Lautrec" as merely a painter of a period of no consequence." One wonders how art would have fared in a peer review system.

Or would it be different in music? We can read what was said of Beethoven's compositions by musicians of his time:

"An orgy of vulgar noises" was the verdict of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony by Mr. Spore, a German violinist and composer.

On Tchaikovsky's appreciation of Brahms, "I played over the music of that scoundrel Brahms. What a giftless bastard. It annoys me that this jumping, inflated mediocrity is hailed as a genius."


Let's just say I'm glad for the arts.

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