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Related: canon - postmodernism
Most postmodern writers deny that there is any inherent characteristic of an artwork which ensures that it will last through the centuries as a significant moment in visual history. Certainly form cannot fill the bill because it provides no objective standard that is not compromised by a political construct. Some simply dismiss the idea of the masterpiece altogether, replacing pseudotranshistorical observations with historically grounded ones.
Others retain the idea of greatness, but they try to describe it more matter-of-factly. One such is Stephen David Ross's A Theory of Art, which defines greatness simply as an enduring ability to generate further articulative responses. Because this ability can be produced by conditions of power, by genuine characteristics of the work, by historical accidents, or in any other number of other ways -- none of which are given priority -- and because articulative responses can include everything from references in coffee-table books to doctoral dissertations or further works of art, it seems an accurate description of what actually happens to works that have been granted special status by posterity. --Robert J. Belton in http://www.arts.ouc.bc.ca/fina/glossary/g_list.html#greatness
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