The Walter Darby Bannard Archive

Letter to the Editor (1980)

New York Times, November 30, 1980, p. 170.

While writing about art, Barbara Tuchman says something she should not have said, and it goes to the heart of her thesis: "...the two criteria of quality - intensity of effort and honesty of purpose..."

What is that, esthetics via common cause? Good art is good and bad art is bad. Sweat and sincerity have nothing to do with it. If we start judging art by hard work and good intentions, we will have to throw out all those overnight compositions Mozart tossed off for aristocratic dilettantes when he was hard up for money and pronounce Mount Rushmore the quintessence of our national genius.