Lina Wertmüller John Simon - Essay

John Simon

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of greatness in art: that of transcending previously known boundaries, of defying all norms; and that of perfect taste, of working with exquisite tact within one's limitations. In music, for example, this would be the difference between a Wagner or Mahler on the one hand, and a Fauré or Ravel on the other; in painting, between a Michelangelo or Picasso and a Botticelli or Degas. The artists of pure taste seem, rightly or wrongly, to possess a smaller greatness, though I often prefer them to the other sort. But there exists, fascinatingly, even a rare third kind that combines aspects of the two divergent greatnesses—artists who are, somehow, both big and small, fierce and...

(The entire section is 1024 words.)