Is it art?

by janeeatonhamilton

Kit Steinkellner over at BookRiot has posed an interesting question.  Can we love a work of art but hate its creator, and if we can (and we clearly can), what should we do about it?  The question was generated because of Woody Allan’s molestation accusation, recently discussed again because of the tribute to the filmmaker at the Golden Globes.  Here is the recent Vanity Fair article that includes commentary about this case: Momma Mia.

The world has been over and over this–with Michael Jackson and JD Salinger, for instance, both alleged pedophiles, and the artist Modigliani, said to be a cad.  Salvador Dali and Picasso both left a lot to be desired.

Do we bifurcate largely just for men?  For white men?  While the rest of humanity is judged more harshly?

Surely people are shades of grey–strange amalgams of good and bad.  Bad people aren’t all bad–and just maybe art is just what they do with some of the good parts of themselves, the redemptive parts, and maybe the art they make can still teach us to be more human, can show us how to navigate dilemmas–maybe it can untangle us for ourselves?

Maybe art should exist on its own merit.  The argument for this is strong.  Surely it is the kind of judgement we’re seeking when we judge, say, literary contests blind?

Whether to turn away from the poet, the painter, the writer, the filmmaker about whom we know something horrible–this is a question I’ve struggled with throughout my career.  But I’ve come up with no answer at all.

Read Kit, though.  She did, and it’s a good one:

No, I won’t Read Your Book if I Think You’re a Monster