All the eternal disputations about taste boil down to the question of the essential difference between connoisseurship and consumption, which, in essence is a difference existing only in the eye of the beholder. It may require a fine musician to appreciate the subtleties of a performance, a good painter to see the quality of brushstroke and of color, a rare winemaker to discern the fragrance of the terroir. It requires little more than money, however, and perhaps a certain snobbishness, to endow operas, buy old Burgundy, or, for that matter, a signed urinal — itself a wry commentary on the very subject. Does it betray good taste or an entire lack of it to hang a Warhol next to a Modigliani, or is it merely a matter of opinion? For that matter, is quality in art intrinsic to the work or the observer? Collectors of the Renaissance had scoffed at Chartres as barbaric, “gothic”, while they themselves became old-hat to Mannerists, déclassé, in turn, in the age of the Baroque. Is fashion — art then, and art — fashion? In the end, it seems, it is the pleasure that a work brings to a widely-ranging cognoscente that is the arbiter of quality, and it the consensus of the epicures that sets the fluid measure.

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