Pablo Charro De La Fuente and Jagoda Waszkowiak offer their opinions on separating art from an artist.
In art, we should never underestimate a piece of art just because of the person that created it. I consider it very important to know that the artist and the art are two different worlds. It is true that every piece that an artist does is going to be influenced by her or his experiences, thoughts or actions.
That is the case of the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, when he described in his memories how he raped a Tamil woman in 1929 when he was consul of Ceylon. Therefore, the creations of Neruda reflect this significant act and the terrible idea of white male supremacy.
If the words of Neruda are contaminated by those horrible ideas when portraying Neruda we should never forget to describe him as a rapist.
Yet still the work of Neruda is one of the finest writings of all time, described by Harold Bloom as one of the poets that shape the western cultural canon. The beautiful lines of lines of Neruda will never be forgotten and they will keep influencing future writers. And that is the point where the criticism should be directed. If the words of Neruda are contaminated by those horrible ideas when portraying Neruda we should never forget to describe him as a rapist.
If we want to enjoy and analyse someone else’s work we need to discover first their reality and what acts and thoughts moved them to create that work. Unmasking those factors will just help us to understand better their art. Instead of despising the creations of someone we must despise them.
In the face of recent events related to Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment allegations, we as an audience ask ourselves again: If I can still enjoy his work, despite what he had done and what kind of person he is? It comes back to a wider, deeper thesis, that artists and their art cannot be separated.
Weinstein produced some of the big, universally loved films, like Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting and The English Patient and countless others. In this case, my personal view is that he helped not necessarily with the creation of the work itself, but mostly financially with only the production part. That means, as a viewer we must remember from which pocket those films were funded and that the actual artists involved, directors, actors, scriptwriters, are not to be blamed for this one man’s actions.
I wouldn’t be fair to the modern artist and our shared morality if we still don’t acknowledge the dark truth about all artists, even those behind the legendary artworks.
This thesis gains different meaning when talking about more individual forms of art. We saw that only a few years ago in comedy with Bill Cosby’s sexual assault allegations and trial. Most of the people agree that because of its personal undertone, his work is now unwatchable. Not only the audience but also comedians, other artists who were influenced by him faced that question.
What about works of art admired for years? We have that problem with works of Dalí - an openly obnoxious man who willfully claimed necrophilia, cruelty to animals and people, fascism, self-obsession, and greed. What should we do with issues which were ignored for centuries, these days would be unacceptable? I wouldn’t be fair to the modern artist and our shared morality if we still don’t acknowledge the dark truth about all artists, even those behind the legendary artworks.