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  1. I was having an interesting conversation with two musician friends today. I've come to the conclusion that - out of all the fine arts - visual art, particularly modern art - is the one field in which I have difficulty discerning mediocrity from greatness. A perfect example is Paul Cézanne. I've been going to museums regularly for thirty years, and have been exposed to a lot of modern art (Cézanne is considered by many to be The Father of Modernism). A couple years ago, I read an entire book on Cézanne, detailing his life, his periods, and his works. I can identify him by sight quite often. Yet, I cannot honestly tell you what makes Cézanne a greater artist than, say, Matisse. And that's just one example: With modern art in general, it would be *very* easy to fool me with something mediocre that an expert told me was profound, and vice-versa. Every other art form I can think of, I'm able to discern hacks from experts, but not with visual art, and especially with post 19th-century art. Can anyone tell me why this is? I'm willing to accept that I have no talent, but why in just this one area? I can tell you a great film from a lousy one, a great piece of literature from a lousy one, a great musical composition from a lousy one; it's just modern art that I am not capable of discerning. I admire, respect, and appreciate Cézanne. But I'd be lying if I told you I could definitively tell you *why* he's essentially considered "the Beethoven of visual arts." I cannot. Opinions sought and welcomed.
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