I posted sometime back on living the art life and how it would be great to have one’s personality be in tune with art such that the art and person blossom to their fullest… I was thinking about the art life a lot after reading reports on art done by people of questionable backgrounds (some of whose victims are now demanding that the artworks be rescinded and not be considered works of art).
Some cases in point:
Brian Davey wrote fantastic music books for children that teach them about music. His books are used across England and is widely considered works of art. The books have become standards for music teachers across England (an example is the four-part series Recorder Playing). Brian Davey also happens to be imprisoned for 13 years for attempted rape, assaults and indecency against girls in what a judge called “the worst case of child abuse it’s possible to imagine”. His stepdaughter, Antoinette Lyons, (also a victim), has called on a sheet music agency to stop selling his manuals to schools as in her opinion they were written with one aim: “to get to the children”.
Eric Gill, ‘The Plait’, Wood Engraving, 1929, 6″ x 3″
Eric Gill (1882-1940) was born in Brighton, England, to a minister of a small Protestant sect. He eventually became an artist, who created some of the most popular devotional art of his era, such as the Stations of the Cross, where worshippers pray at each panel that depict the suffering of Jesus. He would receive many important and prestigious commissions, including works for the League of Nations, the BBC, and the London Transport. Fiona MacCarthy wrote a biography of him in 1989 (details on Google) that dropped a bombshell. MacCarthy’s book revealed that he regularly had sex with two of his daughters, his sisters and even the family dog. These encounters he recorded in his diary and have since been proven to be true.
There are also similar stories about Wagner (antiSemitic), Caravaggio (killer) and Larkin (supposed racist and sexist), Schubert (paedophile) and Richard Strauss (member of the Nazi party).
The question to you is simple: Would you value works of art done by someone whose acts committed in private are reprehensible while their art done in public is exulted?