Can we love the art of monstrous men? Can we truly separate the art from the artist? Should we boycott their work or should we still appreciate their genius despite their actions?
To answer these questions author and critic Claire Dederer came to Intelligence Squared in July 24. In conversation with acclaimed writer Lisa Taddeo, she drew on the themes of her widely praised new book Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma, in which she explored the legacies of some of the most infamous figures in art. Is their talent deserving of special treatment? Or should we reevaluate their contributions to society in light of their transgressions?
What should we make of the legacy of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, who faced numerous accusations of child sexual abuse throughout his career? Can we still dance to his hits like ‘Thriller’ and ‘Billie Jean’, or should we shun them in light of the disturbing allegations against him? Can we enjoy the cinematic masterpieces of Roman Polanski, who fled the US after being charged with statutory rape, or reject them due to his allegedly criminal behavior? And what about the works of Hemingway and Picasso, known for their artistic brilliance but also for their mistreatment of women?
The conversation also investigated how we perceive women artists who may be seen as monstrous and what our society’s views on gender say about us.