. . . about the art of the 20th Century:

The art that doubts its task must make novelty into its highest value . . .
                                               — Walter Benjamin

Curiously, it was cinema, a supposedly new art form, that remained, along with jazz perhaps, the most self-confident of arts in the 20th Century, never for a moment doubting its task, which was traditional, conservative even, humane and popular, unlike the older “high art” forms which became the province of ever-dwindling cultural elites.

Hiding behind the mask of its purely technological novelty, it carried on the art projects of the 19th Century without shame — Victorian academic painting, Victorian theater (especially Victorian spectacle-theater), program music and the variety stage.

This has to be one of the most astonishing sleight-of-hand acts in the whole history of art.