Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Into the Lists

Someone recently asked me who I thought were the greatest artists who ever lived. It is a fatuous question of course, and nothing but mischief can come from an attempt to answer it. Nonetheless, it set me thinking. If I had to assemble a list of the greatest artists, whom would I put on it? And so, unable to restrain my imagination, I began in idle moments to do so.

I offer my initial response here, in a vaguely descending order, with the absolute certainty that my readers, who are above average in intelligence, culture and erudition generally, will have strong opinions in reply. But here we go, bearing in mind that I speak only of the Western artistic tradition, since I know so little (alas) about the arts of the East. All this, of course, is done with great reservation and the full intention of revision as my mind clears and my embarrassment deepens.

To my mind, the ten greatest artists of the Western tradition are:

Johann Sebastian Bach
The Master Builder of the Cathedral of Chartres

So there it is. I invite comments, suggestions, derision. Please let me know who you think should and should not be on my list.