The problem with these lists and these rankings and these favorites is that they circumvent discovery—instead, they dictate. The reason people get excited by word-of-mouth recommendations—rarer and rarer these days—is because they come with a pulse. A list doesn’t. A list is assigned by an organization. A list is anemic. A list removes the desire that you started with. A list is fake in the way that finding something out for yourself is not. Imagine if we treated art with the same richness as we treat sports, with the same nuance with which we consider players (Moneyball notwithstanding). But there is no goal in art; it is impossible to quantify until an artist transcends the work and becomes a commodity. That is when a Van Gogh becomes currency. Or a Banksy is stolen off a wall like wad of cash. In a 2007 talk on the “aestheticized equity” of art, Professor Donald Kuspit described the evaluation of art as a rigged game: “Paying a certain amount of money for a work of art can be compared to placing a bet on a number in roulette. It is in fact less of a gamble, for the more money one places on the art number the more one guarantees that it will win the art game. Big money guarantees big art historical returns—good art historical fortune as well as a very good economic future. It is a way of controlling the game. It is a way of fixing the spin of fortune’s wheel so that it is always in one’s favor.”
Loved this bit from Soraya Roberts' piece about the latest Sight & Sound Greatest Films of all Time list, over at Defector.