Man Without Qualities

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Not So Great Art

Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen was widely and strongly criticised when the media reported his response to a question about the September 11 attacks on the United States:

What happened there is - they all have to rearrange their brains now - is the greatest work of art ever. 'That characters can bring about in one act what we in music cannot dream of, that people practice madly for 10 year, completely, fanatically, for a concert and then die. That is the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos.

So what is one to make of this OpinionJournal report in regard to a museum display of Hitler's art:

Timothy Cahill suggested in his Aug. 4 review for the Albany Times Union that we add Hitler to "the list of the 20th century's great artists" for having "choreographed World War II and the Holocaust as a mad act of aesthetic will." Martin Knelman, in his Aug. 11 review for the Toronto Star, saw Hitler as a master at staging "a really big show--the kind that millionaire rock stars now routinely offer their fans."

Aren't these reviewers even more off base than OpinionJournal indicates?

Or are we supposed to accept that the offense of Mr. Stockhausen's comment lay vastly less in what he said than in when he said it?

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