Was speaking with a friend regarding how I like going to galleries to see all the different kinds of art out there and how much I wish I had the funds to purchase some. The discussion eventually lead to the following question —
Do you need to agree with an artist’s lifestyle or politics to appreciate their art? To spend money on it?
No, I do not have to agree with an artist’s personal views to appreciate the art. What’s the joke…? I don’t know what art is, but I know what I like. Often times I see/hear/read the art long before I know the views/lifestyle of the artist anyway and have made my own opinion of the art. The last time I checked, artists are people and definitely have their own opinions and theories on any variety of subjects, as I have mine. There are going to be differences of opinion. Little of which has bearing on whether how I will perceive the person’s respective arts. If it moves me, it moves me.
So many people liked Tom Cruise’s body work until he became outspoken on Scientology (and the infamous couch jump on Oprah). Okay, he was (is still?) an ass personally. The backlash was odd and misplaced. So many could not separate the man from the various movie characters. It is interesting now that his personal life is such horrid gossip fodder, the general opinion on his acting ability seems to be rising again. It is/was the same with Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood. Providing Gibson can keep his rants to minimum, and Eastwood sticks to being a rambling curmudgeon only between “Action!” and “Cut!”, that is. I suspect the same will happen with them as well, as people tend to forget/stop caring quickly enough if you let them. That’s not to say given their respective faux pas, I would never see a movie either are in again because of it. I know I would simply because I respect their work as actors, if not necessarily the current state of who each is as a person right now.
To spend money on it, though? Well, that has a caveat or few.
I have a friend who will not purchase anything from a particular band because he despises the lead singer’s political views. My friend loved the band’s music, all the way until he learned of the singer’s view. Now it is all about how the band sucks. He can’t bring himself to separate the art from the artist. Now, I agreed the artist is a jerk, however, this artist continually has songs that impressed me in spite of my opinion of him personally. As long as that continues, I can support his artistic work. If it moves me, it moves me.
As a woman of color in America, should I discover that a sculpture I simply adored and am seriously considering its purchase was created by a staunch, outspoken member and defender of the Ku Klux Klan, it would certainly give me pause. As I stated before, it would not stop me from appreciating the beauty of the art, but I cannot knowingly aid someone in a cause I am solemnly against. If I have already purchased the item before I made the discovery, I would not return it. I would not be happy for quite the while of my accidental contribution to the cause, but I’d eventually get over it. And knowing me I’d likely have an anecdote along the lines “it’s amazing how could someone so ugly could create something of such beauty”.
After all, if it moves me, it moves me.
Let’s see how others are slicing it up this week:
A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.