PRINT October 1972

Quality, Style and Olitski

ALL ART, GOOD OR BAD, bad, is outwardly just stuff. As an inventory of materials it is like anything else similarly composed. It becomes art when it is made up and presented as art. Then it comes before a special set of apperceptions we call taste. The function of taste is to find out the value the work of art has for us, and that judgment is expressed in terms of quality. Quality is carried by the materials as they reflect the activity of the artist as he made the work. A great work of art holds up a high standard of human excellence brought into mundane material, perhaps “captured” by the material, as if the quality built its house and then moved in. For this, or some related reasons, art is the most valuable thing in our culture. I don’t mean just expensive, although the great expensiveness of what is considered good art has to do with its human value. It has something which we find

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