In light of our recent book club discussions on Caravaggio, de Kooning and Lee Krasner, a recent editorial in the New York Times poses and interesting question: why is it that much of the great art in the world is created by artists who fail to live up to generally accepted societal standards of morality and decency? The article’s author, New York Times arts reporter Charles McGrath lays out many examples of artists with problematic views and behaviors, including anti-Semitism, misogyny, addictions, and general orneriness, to name a few. While there are also examples of artist you wouldn’t mind inviting over for dinner with your family, McGrath posits that artists have to pour everything into their art and there is little room left over for social niceties or rule-keeping.
While I certainly know and work with many artists who are also great people, it’s hard to argue with the general premise – in my extensive readings in the lives of the great artists, most of them exhibited blatant disregard for the social standards of their time.
While this is certainly not a new question, McGrath makes some interesting points about the ‘sacrifices’ artists make in their personal lives and the pain they bring to those around them.
Read the Article, “Good Art, Bad People” from NYTimes.com
What do you think, is great art an excuse for bad behavior? Can ‘good’ people create great art? Is the author of the article asking the right questions? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below.
Thanks to Ann Waters for forwarding me the article.