Hey, Steve's comment about Annie Liebovitz -- "Sure, Annie Liebowitz is an airhead, but she's made more people look cool over the last 40 years than anybody else" -- highlights a little hobbyhorse theme of mine, namely that art-talent and IQ have little or nothing to do with each other! Fun.
If anyone's interested and open to the idea ... As someone who's led the arts-and-media life for more than 30 years, I suggest that you'll find it far more useful to think of art-talent as something that resembles athletic talent than it is to think of it as something having anything to do with IQ-style brainpower. The work of art-and-entertainment world people is sometimes worth paying attention to not because these are such smart people who are conferring their brainpower on us but because they're gifted people who've managed to find ways to turn their often bizarre talents into products that the rest of us can enjoy.
Creative artsworld people are often seriously unimpressive intellectually. But they're also often gifted in ways that can make your jaw drop.
Which to my mind brings up a whole other topic: How much fabulous art is out there that you've never heard of (and never will hear of), because editors, critics and profs are ignorant, or resistant, or copycats? In my experience, ANY time I poked around a little corner of art history on my own (in other words, any time I bore down on a little corner of art history hard enough to get by the usual masterpieces and landmarks and do a little investigating of my own), I found work that I thought was great, in fact often greater than what the profs, critics, historians etc had told me about.
Another question: Let's face it, historians, critics, editors and such -- the people who write and publish the articles and books, and who teach the classes -- are a peculiar bunch. They're a lot more scholarly and intellectual than most people are, for one thing. To what extent has this shared temperament shaped our view of art history? Maybe the version of it they pass along is best understood as "a history of the art that intellectuals approve of"? Should we -- we non-scholar types -- maybe be a little more challenging of (and wary of) their tastes and their lists?
Was Burgess as good as everybody assumed he was in the 1970s? I don't know. In the mid-1970s I was hugely impressed by his 1974 novel The Napoleon Symphony, a historical novel about Bonaparte structured to follow Beethoven's Eroica Symphony (which had originally been dedicated to Bonaparte until he crowned himself Emperor). But, I was a callow youth, so what do I know? I read quite a few more of his books, but they became progressively less dazzling.
Likewise, was Burgess a good critic? God knows he was a prolific critic. In the 1970s, his reviews were highly prestigious, but by the 1990s, he was increasingly seen as a hack.
Was Burgess a hack who deserves to be forgotten? Perhaps. He certainly liked making money from writing. But, it's also possible that the reputation he enjoyed in the 1970s was reasonable.
Hopefully, some consensus will emerge on what was Burgess's best stuff, and his influence will come into better view.
Anyway, it's more likely that Burgess will be rediscovered by a new generation than that some dead writer who was obscure all his life will be discovered for the first time.