What utter hogwash this is! This author thinks that the concept of separating the art from the artist is a con man’s game. In other words, if someone does something bad, their art is somehow tainted and bad as well. If they were a dark and evil person, somehow, their art will be imbued with that evil. The implication being you might catch it. As if the art becomes a talisman for the power of the artist. The whole notion is occult.
When one talks about separating the art from the artist there are two different perspectives. Normally, what people mean is that the artist is a really bad and immoral person but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy their art. That art might be sculpting or painting, or it might be music or a movie. From this perspective I most certainly think we can make that distinction.
Not one person is perfect. Not one. If our criteria was to only view art by those who behave in ways we deem morally appropriate, we would have no art. Leonardo da Vinci committed crimes he would have been excommunicated and executed for. Van Gough was insane. It’s doubtful you would listen to a single song on the radio (even those by Christian artists). If you are looking for morality instead of art then you’ll never enjoy art anyway. Have fun putting your fig leaves on the penises of master-works.
Those who say you cannot view the artist and their art distinctly have a moral agenda. They do not like what the artist is doing and seek to destroy the artist by destroying the economic circumstances created by that art. Fair enough. Capitalism is a powerful tool in this way and that’s a legitimate use of it. But that does not mean that those who do not share your moral view or crusade are doing something wrong and have to be arm twisted into seeing art and artist and forever one.
The art may flow from the artist but it becomes yours once it leaves the artist’s mind. YOU are not beholden to the artist’s morality, mentality, or madness.
Only art students need care about the relationship between art and artist. Knowing an artist helps a student understand motivation, inspiration, muse, and passion. Knowing an artist intimately can sometimes help an art student better quantify the particulars of the art. But the qualifications will always be personal. The idea in art of “what does it mean?” is sometimes useful sometimes not. What a piece of art ultimately means is up to you. Even if the artist says it means one thing, that doesn’t mean it does to you. Songs are a great example of this. The artist may have created a piece for a particular purpose. For example the song “Closing Time” by band Semisonic is actually about the birth of a child and the new doors that opens up. But that doesn’t mean when you listen to it that you have to think of that. It might mean something different to you. Songs take on unique “meaning” beyond the music and the lyrics and once in the wild gain a life apart from the artist. That’s what good art does. It attaches itself to your life. It’s seldom true of artists.
Upon winning the Oscar for his performance in 1999’s American Beauty, a story about a suburban “Joe” who rebels against the oppressive shackles of his domesticated existence by leching after a teenage girl, actor K