From Leon Wieseltier at The New Republic:
At the conclusion of his poems about the rescue of the Ghent Altarpiece [from a salt mine after WWII], Kirstein wrote: “How marble molds itself into flesh, paint kindles gold in shafts / Makes me witness salvation first in comely handicrafts . . .” This aesthete risked his life for his aestheticism. But who would cower from snipers, or crawl through a mine, to save a Damien Hirst? And if a Balloon Dog [by Jeff Koons] were one day destroyed the way the Mantegna frescoes in the Ovetari Chapel in Padua were destroyed, what values and what experiences would we lack? No philosophical reflections about the cruelties of man and time would be warranted. The treasures of our day are hardly worth plundering.
Ouch. And, of course, he’s right.
Here’s God (“The Almighty”) depicted in the Ghent Altarpiece:
And here’s a Damien Hirst piece (a human skull covered with over 8000 diamonds and titled, “For the Love of God”):
Image sources: Wikipedia.