Art Rubrics: Leo Tolstoy

I know this isn’t how art is supposed to work. And maybe—and this is incredibly plausible—I have no idea what I’m talking about. But I like the idea of summarizing individuals’ perspectives on art—especially those of famous artists and critics themselves—into a sort of grading rubric or scorecard to more readily understand, convey, and compare answers to the question: what is “good” art? (This is not an attempt to oversimplify or objectify art even though that’s essentially the exact thing I’m doing.) Alas…

First, has the artist transmitted or evoked a feeling or emotion?
   ▢ Yes    ▢ No  
If yes, how infectious is that feeling or emotion?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Does the work seem accessible to all—bourgeoisie and working class alike—rather than just an elite few?
   ▢ Yes    ▢ No  
Does the subject of the work include one or both of the following?
   ▢ Unity between man and God or some other higher being or purpose
   ▢ Connectedness among men, the shared human experience
How individual was the emotional experience that you received; that is, to what degree did you relate to or internalize the feelings transmitted from the work?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
How clearly were the feelings transmitted? (Consider the simplicity and clarity of the work.)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Most importantly, does the artist appear sincere in his or her own possession of that emotion?
   ▢ Yes    ▢ No  
Does the work exhibit common characteristics of counterfeit or imitations of true art?
   ▢ “Borrowing” (stealing)
   ▢ “Imitating” (simply replicating real life)
   ▢ “Striking” (frivolous effects or gimmicks)
   ▢ “Interesting” (overly detailed or trivial)
jtp Tolstoy, Leo. What is Art? 1897. (Aylmer Maude’s translation)

Next up, eventually: Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy.