Robert Philen has another very insightful piece on his always fascinating blog on the questions of accessibility and difficulty in art and their relationship to artistic quality, in which he makes the point that neither attribute has any intrinsic relationship to artistic quality; nor does a work's relative popularity or obscurity determine or even indicate its quality. Philen argues against the common assumptions either that a work which is accessible and/or popular is thereby good (this viewpoint usually dismisses more difficult work as "elitist" or "exclusionary") or that a work which is difficult and/or obscure is therefore good (this viewpoint usually dismisses more accessible work as meretricious at worst, at best not to be taken seriously).
As Philen writes, "What I’d like to most emphasize here is that when it comes to artistic expression, accessibility/difficulty is an important quality (or really a set of qualities, given different varieties of difficulty) which is independent of the aesthetic merits of a work, that is, independent of whether a work manifests something profound or beautiful, independent of whether a work successfully unifies the concrete and universal, the timely and timeless (see my recent post, "Great Art, Timeliness, and Timelessness").
"This is actually a fairly simple and straightforward point, but I make it in opposition to common claims or assumptions that either accessibility or difficulty signal either good or bad art.
"Similar assumptions are often made with regard to a related quality of creative expression--its popularity or obscurity (like accessibility and difficulty, these are simply inverse ways to regard the same basic quality). (These qualities are related not in that most accessible art is particularly popular nor that most obscure art is necessarily difficult. For that matter, a work’s level of popularity or obscurity can change over time without its level of difficulty particularly.... Instead, the relationship between accessibility/difficulty and popularity/obscurity is more that most popular works tend to be relatively accessible and most difficult works tend to be more obscure...."
I encourage everyone to read this clear-minded piece that cuts through the fog of assumptions and presumptions in which many who write about the arts operate.