Modern art always "projects itself into a twilight zone where no values are fixed, he [Leo Steinberg] said. "It is always born in anxiety." Not only that, he said, it is the function of really valuable new Modern art to "transmit this anxiety to the spectator," so that when he looks at it, he is thrown into "a genuine existential predicament." This is basically Greenberg's line, of course--"all profoundly original art looks ugly at first"--but Steinberg made the feeling seem deeper (and a bit more refined). The clincher was Steinberg's own confession of how he had first disliked [Jasper] Johns's work. He had resisted it. He had fought to cling to his old values--and then realized he was wrong. This filtered down as a kind of Trubulence Theorem. If a work of art or a new style disturbed you, it was probably good work. If you hated it--it was probably great.
Tom Wolfe, The Painted Word