BBC: Can you separate the artist from the art?

2017/6/18 16:35:44

A museum acknowledges an artist it features was a serial sexual abuser – it’s very rare for the art world to put work in this context, writes Fisun Güner.


Photo: The murder of Joe Orton by the artist Kenneth Halliwell was dramatised by Stephen Frears in the 1987 film Prick Up Your Ears (Credit: Alamy)

From BBC News, June 12, 2017:


Just how true is the following statement an artist’s work should have value in its own right, no matter what sort of life the artist led, and even if they have damaged or hurt others? Perhaps we might put the answer on a sliding scale, for don’t we as a culture, hold it to be true when it comes to some artists, but not others.


Tate Britain’s current Queer British Art exhibition, which includes the work of the writer and collagist Kenneth Halliwell, is just one of a recent spate of exhibitions and film screenings that might prompt you to ask this question afresh. In 1967, in the tiny one-room flat the couple shared in north London, Halliwell bludgeoned his partner, the playwright Joe Orton, to death, before ending his own life. Clinically depressed, isolated and increasingly fearful of losing Orton, who was clearly tiring of him by then, he finally, as we’re pithily inclined to put it, ‘snapped’. Halliwell left a suicide note simply saying all would be explained in Orton’s diaries, “especially the latter part”.


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