Drawing the Line: What to Do with the Work of Immoral Artists from Museums to the Movies

  • 4h 45m 46s
  • Erich Hatala Matthes
  • Recorded Books, Inc.
  • 2022

Recent years have proven rife with revelations about the misdeeds, objectional views, and, in some instances, crimes of popular artists. Given more access than ever thanks to social media and the internet in general, the public has turned an alert and critical eye upon the once-hidden lives of previously cherished entertainers. But what should we members of the public do, think, and feel in response to these artists' actions or statements? It's a predicament that many of us face: whether it's possible to disentangle the deeply unsettled feelings we have toward an artist from how we respond to the art they produced. As consumers of art, and especially as fans, we have a host of tricky moral question to navigate: do the moral lives of artists affect the aesthetic quality of their work? Is it morally permissible for us to engage with or enjoy that work? Can we separate an artist from their art?

In Drawing the Line, Erich Hatala Matthes offers insight and clarity to the ethical questions that dog us. He argues that it doesn't matter whether we can separate the art from the artist, because we shouldn't. Matthes argues both that the lives of artists can play an important role in shaping our moral and aesthetic relationship to the artworks that we love and that these same artworks offer us powerful resources for grappling with the immorality of their creators.

About the Author

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. His work has appeared in Ethics, Philosophical Studies, Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Public Affairs Quarterly, Social Theory and Practice, Ergo, Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, Analysis, Journal of the American Philosophical Association, Philosophy Compass, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and various edited collections. He has also written award-winning popular pieces for Aeon and Apollo Magazine.

In this Audiobook

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 - Sympathy for the Devil: Do Immoral Artists Make Worse Art?
  • Chapter 2 - Complicity and Solidarity: Is It Wrong to Enjoy the Work of Immoral Artists?
  • Chapter 3 - Reforming the Art World: Should Immoral Artists Be "Canceled"?
  • Chapter 4 - Love, Trust, and Betrayal: How Should We Feel about Immoral Artists?