Drawing the Line: What to Do With the Work of Immoral Artists From Museums to the Movies
Recent years have been punctuated by revelations and reminders that popular artists (musicians, directors, actors, comedians, painters) have committed a range of morally condemnable acts. What should we do, think, and feel in response to these actions? Does it affect the aesthetic quality of the work these artists have produced? Is it morally permissible for us to engage with or enjoy that work? Should such work even be available for consumption, or should it be “canceled”? In short, can we separate the art from the artist? In Drawing the Line, I argue that it doesn’t matter whether we can separate the art from the artist, because we shouldn’t. Taking both art and morality seriously requires grappling with them together. Recognizing the moral and aesthetic relationships between art and artist is essential to determining when and where we should draw the line when good artists do bad things.
Erich Hatala Matthes is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Faculty Director of the Frost Center for the Environment at Wellesley College. His teaching and research focus on the ethics, politics, and aesthetics of art, cultural heritage, and the environment. He majored in English and Philosophy at Yale and earned his PhD in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley.
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