Can we appreciate art made by bad people?




In light of recent and continuous events in Hollywood, including numerous allegations of sexual assault, an article in the New York Times written by Clyde Haberman addresses probably one of the most important questions in the midst of all this uproar. “Can we appreciate art even if it was created by someone who behaved deplorably?”

A lot of us draw our lines at different points depending on our personal moral compass. Some would set their limits from a legal perspective and others might do it based on their personal opinions.

While Haberman acknowledges the wrongful acts that people like Kevin Spacey or Caravaggio have committed, he argues that people might still have the desire to access and enjoy their art.

This is true for many who wish to separate art from the artist, but what happens when our hearts simply aren’t able to feel the beauty in their work anymore?

 It is the belief that appreciating their work reflects who we accept in our society. It is the discomfort of being aware of what they’ve done. It is our values speaking, taking over our love for art.

However, is it possible that as a result of our fascination and never-ending love for art, we end up perceiving artists as ideal, moral and perfect beings? Perhaps we should zoom out and redefine what an artist is.

On the other hand, there are many valid reasons why one’s personal values would take over a piece of art. Whether it is because we do not wish to support them financially or because we refuse to preserve their status in society.

It is also interesting to see that art is a value on its own that people choose to prioritize by sacrificing whatever judgment they hold against an   artist.

Let’s take a look at what role art and our personal values play in our ability to separate a work from its artist or not.  

First, here’s what people from the film industry have to say on this matter.