Ethics and Moral values in art
Many people love art for the freedom it provides through expression — it is often said that “a picture can paint a thousand words.” With many mediums at an artist’s fingertips, the creative possibilities are endless. Art can be produced around any subject matter, but it is debatable whether some topics shouldn’t be permitted. With such liberty, should there also be moral responsibility?
“Myra” by Marcus Harvey is an interesting example of blurred lines within ethics. This large painting was created in 1995, resembling a greatly magnified version of a photographic image. The woman displayed on the canvas is Myra Hindley (the person held accountable, as well as her husband, for The Moors murders). The victims consisted of five children, which the painting boldly comments on through thousands of tiny handprints, layered to portray one big visual. These small handprints are reminiscent of an “innocent child”, which the artwork consciously juxtaposes through the large canvas portrayal of the “depraved world of adults”.
Understandably, this is a very controversial piece with much to be said about it. Some people support it, describing it as the single most important painting in the show: “a very, very cathartic picture… It is an incredibly serious and sober work of art that needs to be seen.” Others saw it as glorification and were angrily provoked, causing the press and public to comment before the opening of the exhibition: “Myra Hindley is to be hung in the Royal Academy. Sadly it is only a painting of her”.
This is of course only one example, but clearly demonstrates the diversity of thought. Morally dubious artworks have always been, and will always continue to be produced. Due to differing opinions, people will always have dissimilar views regarding what is and isn’t acceptable to be published. Personally, I do believe that it is appropriate for the artist to consider their audience and what they are publishing in the world. There is a fine line between art that handles a sensitive subject matter to spread awareness, or to just glorify and promote disturbing matters. Ultimately, an artist is still a human being and a part of the social, moral world. This would therefore suggest that actions as either an artist or ordinary human is not to be exempt from following the same guidelines or moral scrutiny.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moors_murders ]
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