Do you need to agree with an artist’s lifestyle or politics to appreciate their art? To spend money on it?
I love art. I know what I like and what I don’t like. I have a well developed eye for art, for sculpture and for painting and for photography. I have spent countless hours in museums and in galleries, learning about various paintings and sculptures and photographs, about various artists and their techniques. I read a lot about art and the artists who create these masterpieces. I don’t own as much art as I would like. I just don’t have the money to spend on it. I do own one painting that my brother bought for me, an oil painting. I love it. I own prints. That’s about all my budget will allow.
But to address the prompt. Do I feel that I have to agree with an artist’s lifestyle or politics to appreciate their art? To spend money on it? Absolutely not. What an artist believes politically makes no difference to me at all. Unless he or she reflects that political view in his or her work, I don’t care what his or her political view is. I care about the art he or she creates. Politics or lifestyle enters into the picture only if the artist incorporates it into his or her artwork. And if I see artistic value in it, I too value it. But if the artist does not include it in their artwork, it makes no difference to me. There is such a thing as pure art. I would still buy prints, or if I had the money, spend the money to buy their art. I would certainly go to their exhibitions.
Some artists are very political or their lifestyles are controversial. Robert Maplethorpe is one that I can think of. But his work is also very artistic. Some of it is very good. Some of it is very controversial and disturbing. I would not reject all of his work just because he was controversial.
This is true of any artist. Woody Allen is another such artist. He was roundly criticized for marrying Mia Farrow’s young daughter. But he makes amazing films. Should we reject his films because of his controversial marriage to a much younger woman whom he once considered a daughter? It’s a decision people have to make. I choose to still see his films because I think he is a great director.
So I think we should take art as art, in and of itself. It may have a political or lifestyle component and we judge art with the component. But when that component is only tangential to the art, we can leave it out of our judgment of the art and the artist. At least I can. I can love art for art’s sake.