20 December 2017

Great Art

John Ruskin, "Definition of Greatness in Art," Modern Painters, Vol. I (New York: John W. Lovell Company, 1885), pp. 78-79:
I want a definition of art wide enough to include all its varieties of aim; I do not say therefore that the art is greatest which gives most pleasure, because perhaps there is some art whose end is to teach, and not to please. I do not say that the art is greatest which teaches us most, because perhaps there is some art whose end is to please, and not to teach. I do not say that the art is greatest which imitates best, because perhaps there is some art whose end is to create, and not to imitate. But I say that the art is greatest, which conveys to the mind of the spectator, by any means whatsoever, the greatest number of the greatest ideas, and I call an idea great in proportion as it is received by a higher faculty of the mind, and as it more fully occupies, and in occupying, exercises and exalts, the faculty by which it is received.
A related post: What Is Art?