On Artists

On Artists
Ashleigh Wilson
Melbourne University Press

About a third of the way into his essay ‘On Artists’ Ashleigh Wilson is deep in a list of the nefarious, violent and predatory acts of, mostly male, famous visual artists, actors, musicians and poets from the Renaissance to today. Then, he asks ‘how much weight should we give to the life when decoding the mysteries of the art?’ The author toggles between these charges and the achievements of each individual, drawing out how evil and excellence co-exist, and considers the dilemma of presenting the artistic output to the public. Do we erase, boycott or display with context – risking a perpetuation of misogyny and further harm to survivors? Wilson concludes ‘we can’t ignore the artist, but that doesn’t mean we have to forgive them either.’