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Demosthenes's avatar

To what extent can art be separated from its creator?

Asked by Demosthenes (5625points) 3 months ago

Any art form here: painting, literature, music, etc.

Does the character of an author/artist affect your enjoyment or appreciation of their work? If, for example, you find out your favorite author is a bigot, does that mean you can no longer enjoy what they’ve written? Can art be evaluated on its own, without also evaluating the artist?

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15 Answers

Stache's avatar

I appreciate the work, not the person.

I can separate the two.

flutherother's avatar

The art can tell you something about the artist but the artist can also tell you something about the work of art. When I like a piece of art I am usually curious to find out more about its creator though it isn’t necessary to appreciate it.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I think this concept could be applied to almost any “entertainer.”

Morality, taste, and the ability/willingness to overlook perceived issues with the “artist,” “or work of art,” in spite of personal objections to the person, or their works is in play.

Example. Nick Cage. I only like about four of his 10,000 movies. The rest are TERRIBLE. I think it’s fair to say that I don’t judge this artist, by his art.

Then. There is Michael Jackson. I have to admit that I LOVE his music. But. I am not a fan of men raping boys….

I suppose I found some understanding of how some Trumpers, might be able to like Trump. I have to admit, my claims that Trumpers support all of the terrible things that come along with the agenda, could be used as evidence that I (in some way) support MJ raping boys…. I’m not proud of that. But I already bought the MJ albums… WTF now?....

Ok. Tell ya what. I won’t buy any of Michael Jackson’s new albums, as long as no Trumpers support Trump anymore…

Demosthenes's avatar

A debate about Richard Wagner is actually what inspired me to ask this. He was an innovative opera composer, absolutely brilliant. He was also a famously outspoken anti-Semite and his music was beloved by Hitler.

Dutchess_III's avatar

For some reason Bill Cosby came to mind….

kritiper's avatar

I take art for what I see and experience. Who or what the artist is, is of no concern.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Two come to mind and I am opposite sides. So I guess I am torn.

@Demosthenes – you mentioned Wagner. He was a vicious anti semite and his works were co0opted by the Nazis. On the other hand, his music was excellent. I enjoy listening to Wagner. (although I am not a big opera fan).

On the other hand, there is Mel Gibson. He is an ugly drunk, also an anti-semite (rather nasty) and a hard core conservative Catholic. I have decided NOT to watch his movies every again.

Others – I am in the middle. I think Charlie Sheen is a complete ass, but he makes good movies.

LostInParadise's avatar

It depends on the art form. If the person is a comedian or actor, it is difficult for me to separate the art from the person. If it is an art form that is separate from the person, like music or painting, I could appreciate the art even if I don’t like the artist. I am not sure about literature. How closely should the narrator or characters be tied to the writer?

josie's avatar

Art is to be evaluated by how it represents humanity.

Imagine you are a cosmic judge, and you render a moral judgement about certain species and civilizations by ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER STANDARD than their art.

If you, as a human being, would like to be judged by a piece of art according to that standard, than you should appreciate it.
If you, as a human being, would be uncomfortable to be judged by a piece of art according to that standard, than you should reject it.
The artist is not relevant other than they are a human being

Demosthenes's avatar

@elbanditoroso And perhaps it would be different if I felt that Wagner’s anti-Semitism showed in his work. And for some, like Gibson, you can take or leave. If you don’t feel is so valuable on its own, why not drop it knowing what you know about him?

I’m getting a lot of votes for the artist isn’t relevant. But I wonder how that plays out in the zero tolerance modern culture of “discover one bad thing about person, reject them and everything they’ve ever done”.

janbb's avatar

@Demosthenes It is a totally individual choice. I’m Jewish (and Unitarian) but I love T.S. Eliot’s poetry even knowing he was an anti-Semite. You’d have to dig fairly deeply into the artists of early 20th Century Britain to find artists that weren’t slightly anti-Semitic; it ran in the culture. Wagner is a different story in many ways because he was used symbolically by the Nazis as an icon of the Master race which were also part of his beliefs. There’s no excuse for Mel Gibson’s rants in my book even though I liked some of his earlier films.

But anti-Semitism is just one lens I look at artists through. I tend to frown on bigots and wife beaters and racists as well but it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate their art. It is a factor in my consideration though.

One of the best questions on here in the past IMHO was one I asked about a museum’s right to show Larry Rivers’ photographs of his daughters which they said were abusive and did not want to be shown. It raged for days back in Fluther’s good old days.

Stache's avatar

Charlie Sheen makes good movies?

janbb's avatar

@Stache Correlation does not imply causation. One can be a wife beater and a lousy artist.

answerbag's avatar

About the second question, I will put you in an empathic way of seeing it.

It is kind of paranoic and philosophical shit, just warning you.
What is an author? A person.
And what constitutes a person? His words, his thoughts, his tastes, and his dislikes or all of it?

Seeing it as even when the character doesn’t have an external appearance similarity to the author, it is still about what the author thought and find it fine enough to use it in his character. Even if the author hides this side of him from everybody else.

The thing is; he may not feel all that him wrote (cause him learned morality), but he still finds interesting and can have a lot of fun writing it (maybe a “masochist fun” or an “it is repulsive, I will never act towards it but, yeah, imagine!”).
That is what brings a question: what are your priorities?
Are your priorities leading to you only trusting people who believe and feel truly morality?
Are your priorities leading to you only like people who just don’t really hurt someone?

Everybody is their work; though it is in a soft way or not. The author thoughts and his desire are there; even if what he is doing for parts is technical; the technic is still what he learned, and why what he learned can’t be him?
What would be him if he is not what he learns — a small percent of his mind?

The thing is; how to separate the author from the story; when the author needed his memories, feelings, and ideas (what constitute him in this way of seeing) to make it?

“you find out your favorite author is a bigot”, oh, yeah.
I particularly let my morality talk first when it comes to people getting hurt, even when his art is awesome. If I discovered that the painter Charles Joshua Chaplin cheated in his wife, particularly, I would not talk about him anymore, even when his arts are deeply good shit!
It is all about the way the individual sees the world; usually, the majority don’t give a damn. That’s why they are so happy.
Could be that they identify with them instead? Oh, boy…
I really don’t think bad about it, it is fine.

Dutchess_III's avatar

In my experience, the artists I’ve known are anything but happy. They’re depressed as hell.

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