Marc Chagall's art, in whatever medium he worked, is completely personal and defies simple classification. He used conventions--paint or other media, semi-Cubist techniques--but created his own visual language of color, fantasy, romance, spirituality and personal experience that are sometimes sentimental, but far too sophisticated to be maligned as anything other than great.
Tori Amos's work throughout the years is threaded by a complex point of view and constant exploration and evolution. Her piano-playing, vocal and lyrical talents are undeniable, even if they can be unrelatable to those who don't find her palatable (it's true; she's an acquired taste that is not appropriate for everyone). She is capable of making undeniably beautiful music but more often chooses to make affecting music that is architectually and intellectually challenging in an experimental alchemy of futuristic, contemporary, regional and archaic instrumentation, a mixed bag of Gnostic, Western, American Indian and feminist philosophy, and a sense of humor about all of her talents and beliefs.
In his Nobel acceptance speech, William Faulkner states that "the basis of all things is to be afraid." Of all of Faulkner's writing that I have read, there is no question that fear is the overwhelming reaction I have. More than any other writer and certainly more than any horror or thriller movie, Faulkner's writing is haunted and haunting, magically conjuring real-life emotional reactions even in the midst of absolute confusion. But Faulkner wasn't a trickster: where most scares are cheap, his are based on humanity--your humanity--and his writing is some of the most bravely honest human expression that has ever been documented.
Oscar Wilde was capable of sheer ridiculousness, and that often pushed him over the edge of entertainment into actual genius. His lifestyle, his self-aggrandization, his unapologetic honesty about the relationship between aesthetics and humanity all came packaged in over-the-top humor and overwrought professions of wisdom that usually prove to be true in ways that people still cannot consciously admit. Oscar Wilde's colorful life was paradoxically rooted in darkness. His life itself was a performance that was completely tied to his words. Andy Warhol, John Waters, Madonna and Lady Gaga owe their careers and artistic freedom to him.
David Lynch has the audacity to translate his dreams and imagination to film. And the genius to find some common thread in the collective unconscious to make it work.
Barbara Walters is regarded as a news journalist, but Walter Cronkite she never was. She is interested in people and, overwhelmingly, well-known people. This is good for business, obviously, as the better known a celebrity is, the higher Walters's ratings will be. But Walters seems to find everyone interesting and draws out those interesting things about people. As an entertainment journalist, she is in a class of her own.