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Grasp the point, but no

Artists should not be cancelled if their work is extraordinary, Cate Blanchett has argued – citing Picasso as an example of a problematic genius.

Why does genius get protection? Why not just rather good ceramics, or even just a decent pot pie? That someone’s entirely vile – along any axis you desire to think of, gender, politics, sporting views – is entirely consistent with their doing other things as well. So, their politics, gender views, support for Bath City, can all be evaluated, as can their pot pies and ceramics. The one doesn’t really flow over into the other does it?

We can and should evaluate Hitler’s treatment of Blondi as Hitler’s treatment of Blondi. As also individually all the other things.

11 thoughts on “Grasp the point, but no”

  1. When I was a student, we did a spot of cultural history and studied 19th Cent opera. This was before I decided I preferred 17 and 18th Cent forms. So I studied Wagner, aiming to give him the benefit of the doubt. I came out the other end loathing him and his music and like Woody Allen found myself revving up the tank whenever he came on the wireless.

    OK, so I won’t have Wagner in the house but I also won’t listen to Mahler – does that make me anti semitic ?

    The important thing about dead artists is that they are dead. They can’t harm you anyomore. We have “off” switches, we can choose not to go to their concerts or exhibitions.

    The mistake that the fragrant Cate makes, is assuming that people have no agency. Taste to the over educated is a social construct rather than just a matter of aesthetics. Much Picasso is wonderful poetic challenging work but a lot of it is simple trash. I heard a Rossini opera the other day that had disappeared for 200 years. It had been lost for a good reason, it was crap.

    Quality will out and it will survive and doesn’t need “protecting”. Let the rest die off of its own accord.

  2. Artists should not be cancelled, period.
    But tell that to those who have decided they are the Conscience of Mankind.

    And “genius” and “extraordinary work” are relatives.
    And bound to offend/be misunderstood/not popular/an Abhorrence Unto Nuggan. That’s what you get from making stuff well outside the trodden paths.

    As otto says, the only real test of works is time. Not the opinion of a bunch of self-appointed guardians of “quality”.

  3. You’re both echoing Bernard Levin’s “Sieve of History”. As usual when agreeing with Levin, you’re correct too.

  4. Has Blanchett’s latest role as a talented predatory lezzie got her thinking about this much-debated issue, or is she getting people ready for some nasty revelations about her own personal life?

  5. Picasso was a sad example of a very decent second rate talent thrown away by choosing to make fashionable trash instead of doing his best.

    It’s interesting to see which cultural Big Names were seen through by the Man on the Clapham Omnibus. Picasso and Freud, for starters.

  6. What I dislike in that quote is the notion that anyone at all should be cancelled.

    As you all say, people can look at the junk. If they don’t like it they don’t look.

  7. OK

    Thought experiment.

    Gary Glitter is a nonce.
    His music is catchy pop and in some cases really well written.
    The film Joker ( an excellent movie which I only wish to watch once, because I found it so disturbing ) uses Glitter’s music in a crucial scene ( it might be the KLF version, but GG still wrote it ).

    Glitter is cancelled now.
    Will he still be after his death ?
    Should the director Joker have used his music and given him all those royalties ?

  8. dearieme,

    He just does nothing for me.

    But I think a lot of people just come and go with fashion. Like Hitchcock wasn’t loved by the cinema establishment, and then Truffaut wrote a lot of things about how great he was, and because Truffaut was this cool guy at the time, people started showing respect to Hitchcock.

    Those Basquiat paintings. what are they, $15m? They’ll be closer to the price of firewood in 50 years. They look like something my mate used to draw on an exercise book at school.

  9. Picasso’s problem was that he just wasn’t that into art. So when he discovered he could earn a million francs by scrawling six black lines onto a piece of white card, he stopped painting. Compare and contrast with Dalí.

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