How do we deal with famous artists' history of misogyny?

Renoir claimed that he "painted with his pr*ck" and chastised his female models for appearing like they were "thinking too much." Picasso was a known womanizer, with multiple mistresses one after the other while actively avoiding divorcing his wife in order to prevent her from gaining half of his net worth. Rodin refused to marry his life-long mistress, hooked up with Camille Claudel who eventually went mad and was confined, destitute, to a sanitorium after her affair with him ended. Yet blockbuster exhibitions of these artists, such as the worldwide #Rodin100 exhibitions at over a dozen museums this year, continue to laud the genius of these "great men", without even a nod to their misogynistic personal histories. If men should be standing up and talking about how they will change in the wake of #MeToo, are there ways we should change in how we talk about the historical men who perpetrated abuse upon the women in their lives?

  • A really interesting topic. I suppose part of the issue is separating the myth from the truth also, because it is also important to consider the context of the period when even though artists often portrayed themselves as "free" they were heavily reliant on the support of their patrons, and ultra-masculinity was a trait that was accepted and admired, note that artists of the period that were tainted by the brush of being "homosexuals" were often less lauded publicly. However, that said a lot of this does not account for the ongoing reiteration of these men's misogynistic behaviours as either acceptable, or worse part of their their "genius". A complex discussion to have, but a worthy one to highlight this need to consider the social cost of lauding the unacceptable. – SaraiMW 7 years ago

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