Art vs. Artist

By: Parker Rowen

Image taken from: Shepherd, Jack. “Artist Paints Himself Painting Himself Painting Himself Painting Himself.” Medium, Sharks and Spades, 5 Aug. 2020, https://medium.com/sharks-and-spades/artist-paints-himself-painting-himself-painting-himself-painting-himself-ed11017d25fc.

“Should art be separated from it’s artist?” is a questions that has come up in recent times. This has begun to re-emerge, with Hollywood being shown to have more and more morally questionable people to be within the industry than was once known, or believed. This is an important question to answer, it brings in a question of morality, and whether it is moral to consume art made by an artist who has committed something heinous.

When researching for a paper, or some kind of formal piece, you always question the source of the information, whether it’s reliable, if it is to be trusted, or provides something which before was unseen. Art should be viewed in the same manner. When you see a piece of art, it is paramount that the artist and their intentions get discussed.

If you look at the works of someone such as Vincent Van Gough, you’ll see how it paints a picture of Van Gough’s life, and view of the world. Without this art as context, we wouldn’t have nearly as much of a view into the world of Van Gough.

Good art is often reflective of it’s artist. It is hard to put passion into something without that thing becoming part of you, and vice versa. Art is meant to be passionate, so naturally it would show the person you are to the world. 

To separate the art from the artist would be akin to stealing the sun from the sky. The artist defines their work, and sets up their themes, they are the ones to decide what their art should mean. It often reflects an opinion, or sends a message in which the artist believes in. While this opinion may not necessarily be harmful, it should be a truthful one, and help paint a picture of what the artist is like, and whether it is someone to look up to.

In capitalism, the phrase “speak with your wallet” is a common, and very true one. People have a monetary value attached to everything, and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success in that regard. So, by this logic, when you buy something you are supporting it. Generally, art has been sold at a price, helping to support the artist living, and to encourage more of that type of art. When you buy a piece of art, you are supporting the artist, and encouraging them to continue behaving the way in which they are.

A piece of art is crucial in learning about an artist, therefore, the artist must be crucial to understanding the art. To separate the art from the artist opens a blank space in the context, and message of the art. With this assessment in mind, I feel that to consume art, such as buying a painting, or CD, made by someone who has committed a reprehensible act is immoral and something to be avoided, because supporting that art also supports the negative behavior in which they have practiced.

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