Letter to The Editor - It can be helpful to know something of the artist’s character and history

To THE AUSTRALIAN          Ian Buruma treads warily (‘Censorship risks moralistic kitsch’, 12/2) through the minefield of discussion of when, if ever, and how the community should censor works of art perceived as being tainted by immorality. His best observation is that ‘to judge the moral component of artistic expression, we must look not at the person who made it but at the work itself.’ Even then, however, it can be helpful to know something of the artist’s character and history.

     Balthus painted some of the finest paintings of last century, but not all will agree that ‘there is nothing that suggests moral depravity or abuse’ in some of his paintings of very young girls. By contrast, there is nothing unclean in Andrew Wyeth’s portraits of Siri Erickson; and we know how honourably he engaged in going about that work. Where Buruma slips badly is in his contrasting of the propaganda films of Eisenstein and Riefenstahl. Both have considerable artistic quality, but he succumbs to political correctness in allowing this only to the communist.
  NJ, Belgrave, Vic



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Friday, 12 July 2024

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