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View Full Version : Art vs Artist who are terrible people.



tkern
05-24-2013, 03:26 AM
I was watching Craig Ferguson the other night when the conversation of Wagner vs. him being an ass came up and if you can appreciate his music in face of his terrible views. This lead to a conversation about about writers, painters, etc who are just complete pricks in their personal lives but create wonderful things. Examples: Beethoven, Henry Miller, Van Gogh. Now, there are different degrees of being a terrible person one might argue. Henry Miller being a chauvanistic, whoring dick vs. Wagner's anti-Jew stance. I'm not intending this to be anyway politcal, religious, etnic, etc., and if the mods think that this may lead to trouble, so be it, delete it; but this lead to a great conversation for me and I was wondering if an equally great, well thought out, of sound and even keeled mind set conversation can also happen here.

Salty dog
05-24-2013, 03:45 AM
Many great artists are troubled. It often seems to go with the territory. I've studied several contemporary greats and there seems to be a common thread. Narcissism, hubris, passion and ego. Not necessarily traits that make you a people person.
Alcohol seems to play a role in many of the "greats" lives as well. I personally believe some minds crave to be slowed down or put on hold. I think booze and drugs is a short term cure and why it's often abused by people who think, live and see things "differently".

sachem allison
05-24-2013, 03:46 AM
sounds an awful lot like being a chef

Salty dog
05-24-2013, 03:47 AM
You know it bro.

mkriggen
05-24-2013, 04:12 AM
Something similar happens on the other side of the creativity spectrum as well. Many of the great theoretical physicists are believed to have had some level of ocd/autism which allowed them to focus intently on some really abstract sh*t. I think you have to be a little (or a lot) off to operate at those extremes of thought/consciousness :scratchhead:

Seth
05-24-2013, 10:12 AM
I don't particularly like Wagner's music but it doesn't have to do with his anti-semitic views. The counter example is Mendlessohn who was just a regular happy guy who wrote some of the most beautiful music ever - and not because he was Jewish. Wagner was an *******, Beethoven was cranky because he didn't get laid enough. The related question often is whether you need to be depressed or a schizophrenic to be creative. I don't know but it kind of seems that way.

skiajl6297
05-24-2013, 10:16 AM
See Edvard Munch (famous for "The Scream"). His exhibition at MoMa a few years back was singlehandedly the most powerful vision of insight into a deranged mind, via art, that I have ever seen. He was clearly a troubled person, and his art characterizes that in gut wrenching detail. It's rare when you feel like you can understand someone's feelings via their art, but Munch sure knew how to hit hard, and below the belt, in a strangely relatable but horrifying way.

markenki
05-24-2013, 10:29 AM
“Wagner's music is better than it sounds.” - Mark Twain

Mucho Bocho
05-24-2013, 10:41 AM
I heard Picasso was real peach too.

Don Nguyen
05-24-2013, 10:54 AM
For some reason, I welcome the crazy terrible artists. I haven't been able to pinpoint my logic yet, but I'll think about it.

mr drinky
05-24-2013, 11:12 AM
Paul Johnson, the conservative historian, wrote a book a while back called The Intellectuals, in which he described a number of philosophers, artists, mathematicians etc. and their less savory sides. Though the book was light on scholarship, it was a sort of fun gossipy read. The underlying theme in that book was that these great minds/people treated those around them like crap. I don't think the traits Salty mentioned: narcissism, hubris, passion, ego and alcoholism often lead to people treating others with respect and dignity.

k.

Mrmnms
05-24-2013, 11:16 AM
Van Gogh , so the man cut off his ear. What's the big deal? We've all cut all of a little something when distracted, right?

Lucretia
05-24-2013, 11:22 AM
Love Wagner's music. Where would we be without the classic "Kill the Wabbit" Bugs Bunny episode? For a brass player, Wagner is right up there as one of the more fun orchestral composers.

I never saw the big deal about Van Gogh until seeing a piece in person. Then it was "WOW! NOW I get it." Amazing stuff.

I used to work with a guy who was an absolutely brilliant engineer (for those of you who remember typewriters, he was one of the people who brought us the the IBM with the "ball" instead of individual keys.) He was also an amazing artist--sculpture, paint, you name it. Living proof that you can be both technical and artistic. He decided to paint miniatures, entered an international competition, and took second place. He was throughly disgusted--his opinion was that given the short amount of time he'd been doing miniatures there were flaws in his work, and if he won an award the judges obviously didn't know what they were doing, so he didn't enter any more competitions. He was also a lyricist--his most well known piece was only a children's song, but covered by Burl Ives, Rafi, Danny Kaye, and others. I was lucky enough to have him for a mentor for about 6 months. He might not have been in the same class as a Van Gogh or a Wagner, but had the most amazing mind of anyone I've ever met. He didn't seem to be too difficult to get along with, although he didn't suffer fools gladly. One of the best compliments I've ever received was when he told me "You're one of the few people I can tolerate."

For some of the great artists, it must be (have been) incredibly difficult to see or hear the world in strange or beautiful ways that are/were so obvious to them, and not have anyone with the same understanding/perspective to discuss it with. Think about how frustrating it is to talk knives with someone who tosses them in the dishwasher and sees nothing wrong with it--and imagine what it would be like if everyone else was like that. If someone is out at the extreme limits of ability, it must seem like no one understands what you're doing or has any sense. Enough to drive one to be antisocial and develop some drug/alchohol issues.

mr drinky
05-24-2013, 11:27 AM
Love Wagner's music. Where would we be without the classic "Kill the Wabbit" Bugs Bunny episode? For a brass player, Wagner is right up there as one of the more fun orchestral composers.


Don't forget about that scene from Apocalypse Now.

k.

Duckfat
05-24-2013, 12:45 PM
Van Gogh , so the man cut off his ear. What's the big deal? We've all cut all of a little something when distracted, right?

:rofl2:

markenki
05-24-2013, 02:16 PM
I never saw the big deal about Van Gogh until seeing a piece in person. Then it was "WOW! NOW I get it." Amazing stuff.
I agree. A Van Gogh in person is very, very different from what you see on a printed page. Visiting the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam was a religious experience for me. And I'm an atheist.

tkern
05-25-2013, 03:17 AM
I think part of it might be direction. If you're a very passionate person and you're writing/painting/composing but there is still that left over push for something else maybe then that energy is directed to anit-semetic rants/blinding- ear shedding love/ absolute drunkeness and drug abuse, etc. e.e. cummings living a bohemian lifestyle then becoming a huge McCarthy supporter, Cat Stevens being this mellow, "love" based music then turning to Muslim at the height of western aggression towards Islam. Also Robert Frost and Ralph Waldo Emerson and their seditary lifestyle vs. Charles Bukowski and Jack Kerouac. I know I'm deeply crossing genres here but I hope my point is understood.

eshua
05-25-2013, 03:29 AM
http://i.imgur.com/CNNYiZo.jpg

Just gona leave this here.

mkriggen
05-25-2013, 04:45 AM
http://i.imgur.com/CNNYiZo.jpg

Just gona leave this here.
:lmao:

GeneH
05-25-2013, 11:53 AM
For some reason, I welcome the crazy terrible artists. I haven't been able to pinpoint my logic yet, but I'll think about it.

Because they don't live in the mundane reality most of us do. Let's face it, there isn't a single "How to Sharpen Your Knife" video on the charts.

Sara@JKI
05-25-2013, 03:13 PM
.... i think you have to be crazy to be an artist of any kind.

Salty dog
05-25-2013, 03:50 PM
You have to be crazy not to be.

tkern
05-27-2013, 03:31 AM
Depends on degree of crazy. And who the f is sane? Everyone has their individual ticks. Haruki Murakami and Steve Erickson have written some the best literature in recent years and they're just "average" people. Some people can produce amazing things because they're educated on what came before them or have educated themselves and put their own experiences into it, learned from it, and went on from there. Beautiful works aren't just bi-products of being off kilter. There is a lot of hard work that goes into it.

This conversation is still continuing in my house. We've moved onto why certain artistic fields tend to produce or not produce offspring that follow in those footsteps. For instance, many parents who are musicians tend to have children who are musicians but people who are painters or writers don't have children that follow in those areas but choose to follow an artistic path in another way. I thought it came down to regement, just like military families tend to be military families and people would work in restaurants tend to raise kids that work in restaurants.

HHH Knives
05-27-2013, 04:16 AM
You have to be crazy not to be.

:)

Seth
05-27-2013, 10:05 AM
We've moved onto why certain artistic fields tend to produce or not produce offspring that follow in those footsteps. For instance, many parents who are musicians tend to have children who are musicians but people who are painters or writers don't have children that follow in those areas but choose to follow an artistic path in another way. I thought it came down to regement, just like military families tend to be military families and people would work in restaurants tend to raise kids that work in restaurants.

Jewish mothers are the only mothers who have the chutzpa to yell at their children to stop playing half ball and get in the house and practice, producing many of the great violinists and pianists. Except for Italian mothers in S. Philly or Brooklyn who scream: YO, Joey, get in here and practice...Mama, keep your pants on, I'm doin something here.

Regarding OP: There has been a long-standing discussion about whether a work of art can stand alone, tapping into a universal aspect of the human mind (formalism/structuralism) or whether art needs to be understood in its historical/cultural context. If the former, Wagner's views wouldn't bother you; if the latter, then they might. There is a story about Stan Getz playing for some isolated mid east tribal group and they only heard noise; and one about some isolated groups not being able to "read" black and white photos. Meaning that you had to learn how to interpret in a symbolic way. So whether you like it or not, art appreciation required historical/cultural context.

Still, I wonder why music playing is "inheritable" and why painters and writers, not so much...

Lucretia
05-27-2013, 11:21 AM
You have to be crazy not to be.

+1

As far as music being inherited goes, music is a lot like language. You have grammar that tells you how loud, how long, the order of phrases, etc. Just as children in a multilingual home pick up languages, children in a musical home probably pick up music. It's another form of aural communication that they are exposed to from an early age.

We've had the conversation that music and software code are the same. They're symbolic languages with instructions that tell you what to do & when to do it (and music even has "go tos", "do whiles", and other control structures.) Some universities even accept software as a substitute for a foreign language credit. If they're going to recognize software that way, they should do the same for music.

tkern
05-27-2013, 12:11 PM
+1
We've had the conversation that music and software code are the same. They're symbolic languages with instructions that tell you what to do & when to do it (and music even has "go tos", "do whiles", and other control structures.) Some universities even accept software as a substitute for a foreign language credit. If they're going to recognize software that way, they should do the same for music.

You should look into CSounds. C++ programing turning equations and basic go to commands into some really amazing thngs.

bikehunter
05-27-2013, 07:51 PM
For a wild take on why artists are nuts and why they do the crazy things they do, don't miss "Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art" by Christopher Moore.

http://www.amazon.com/Sacre-Bleu-Comedy-dArt-P-S/dp/006177975X

Or pick it up at the library.

Lucretia
05-27-2013, 10:09 PM
I really like some of Christopher Moore's early books--later ones, not so much. I'd given up on him as an author. Might have to pick this one up.

bikehunter
05-27-2013, 10:40 PM
Moore appeals to a certain audience, but I've liked most of what he's written. You can always count on his books to be... different. I love the Bloodsucking Fiends series, The Gospel According to Biff, and some others. For me his books run from good to great. I liked Sacre Bleu, but I mentioned it because of the crazy artists subject.... I'll be the first to admit it might not be for everyone.

ejd53
05-27-2013, 10:51 PM
+1

As far as music being inherited goes, music is a lot like language. You have grammar that tells you how loud, how long, the order of phrases, etc. Just as children in a multilingual home pick up languages, children in a musical home probably pick up music. It's another form of aural communication that they are exposed to from an early age.

We've had the conversation that music and software code are the same. They're symbolic languages with instructions that tell you what to do & when to do it (and music even has "go tos", "do whiles", and other control structures.) Some universities even accept software as a substitute for a foreign language credit. If they're going to recognize software that way, they should do the same for music.

Music is an interesting topic; it is one of the great cornerstones of the nature vs nurture argument and the existence of musical prodigies argues strongly for the nature faction. My own experiences in a musical home (my mother was an opera singer and voice teacher and my son is the principal cellist of the Louisville KY Orchestra) probably skew my views somewhat, but trust me when I say that it's not just practice (although you can't do it without long hours of practice). Neither my brother nor my sister nor I were inclined to follow a musical route (although we did play the obligatory instruments in the school band) although my mother and father surrounded us with music growing up. I knew the names of the pieces that were the background to Warner Brother's cartoons. Strangely, the one that always stuck with me the longest was not the fantastic "What's Opera, Doc?" (kill the wabbit), but Mendelssohn's Hebrides overture whenever that stupid hopping crow would cross the screen and all the other action would stop.

Do children pick up music in the house at an early age? Absolutely, but the ones who are really musicians react differently. My son was definitely exposed to classical (and other types of) music when he was young, but no more (probably less) than I was; however, from the time he could walk, it affected him differently. To make a long story short, by the time he was four he was begging me to let him play an instrument. I asked him which one and he chose the cello, and he makes his living with it today. He was born with whatever it took for him to become a musician; it could not be taught, it was always there. If it could be taught like a language, everyone could do it (even Heifetz remarked once that string playing was easy, all you had to do was put the right finger on the right place at the right time), and we know that that is not the case.

tkern
05-29-2013, 03:07 AM
I went to college at Berklee and the range of people who went there was very diverse. The graduation rate was 3%. The number came from people dropping out because they formed a band, got a paying gig, moved on to another college or field, or just couldn't hack it.
My father was a blacksmith and my mother a paralegal. There was always music in my home but never anything more complex than Frank Zappa's "Strictly Genteel" or Eric Johnson. I went to school for music but ended up in a restaurant because I enjoyed the field. ... and I had to pay rent. Will I ever go back to music? Maybe.

I haven't thought about taking the music out of societal context as Seth suggested but I can definitely see why. I wonder though if, as an example, you have someone you very much respect (baseball player, musician, Wolverine) and meet that person face to face and discover they're a horrible person, would they continue to hold your respect? It seems that most people are ok with their entertainment being produced by whomever and it seems it comes down to one's inherit enjoyment of a work vs. one's chosen moral ground.

WildBoar
05-29-2013, 05:50 PM
For me, once the horrible part of the persona is exposed my overall respect for that person is reduced to simply a respect for/ appreciation of their talents. But even that respect gets diminished. I guess at some level I think they are only that good at whatever their talent is because they focus less of their energy/ effort into other aspects of their lives. So there may be many others out there who could achieve what that artist accomplished if they did not put some of their energy into being better at other aspects of their lives/ relationships.