No, I am not one of these people who thinks high art, or even "modern art," (or for that matter Jeff Koons) is a load of crap. Still, I have a simple question. Let's say it is by Michelangelo. It's not that good. Since no one used to call this painting a major masterpiece, and it is not being ascribed to "foul juvenalia" (it was painted right before the Sistine Chapel) does it not mean that Michelangelo wasn't as good a painter as we used to think? Peaks matter but the average matters too (in the meantime, can we downgrade talent assessments on a purely stochastic basis?)
Here is the bottom line on our previous collective, "wisdom of crowds" judgment:
The Met bought the painting at Sotheby's London, along with a companion work attributed to Granacci, which depicts episodes in the life of the Baptist. "I think it's ironic that the Met paid $200,000 for the Granacci and $150,000 for the painting I attribute to Michelangelo," Fahy said.
My favorite bit is this one:
Keith Christiansen, who succeeded Fahy as chairman of the European paintings department and who is a prominent scholar on the Italian Renaissance, told me, "I think Everett has put forward the strongest argument that can be made for it."
Does that mean yes or no?
Christiansen smiled and said, "I don't do yes or no."
Hat tip goes to Kottke.