Separating Art From the Artist


Reuben Shupe, PaperClip Staff/Writer

Can art truly be separated from the artist? 

Many great artists are terrible people, so is it still ok to call them great artists?  Many examples of this come to mind but the one that made me write about this in the first place was James Franco. 

Franco, a writer, director, and actor, is an incredible artist. He has an impressive resume, fromFreaks and Geeks”, “Pineapple Express” to “Spring Breakers” and “Palo Alto”.

 He can balance the more comedic performances with the more serious ones, something not every actor can do. 

Franco also writes, like the aforementioned “Palo Alto”, for which he wrote the book of the same name on which the movie is based. And, he can direct, like in “The Disaster Artist”, which he also wrote for and starred in. Undeniably that is talent. 

Yet is it still acceptable to enjoy those works, which are objectively good, even if the man behind them isn’t?

 For those that aren’t aware, Franco, along with his impressive resume, also has some serious allegations against him under his belt. Five different women all accused Franco of sexual misconduct. 

So is it still acceptable for someone to read “Palo Alto” and enjoy it?  Can someone separate the art from the artist?

Well this is nearly impossible, as separating art from the artist is incredibly fake. Anyone who uses that as an excuse to enjoy something made by a morally abhorrent person is lying to themselves and trying to self justify.

 Nobody other than James Franco could have created “Palo Alto” as the artist, no matter the case, or the artwork, as he is inherently part of the DNA of the art. 

The artist is interwoven with the fabric of the art; it’s an extension of that person. So no, separating art from the artist isn’t possible because it’s impossible to ignore. 

The much more interesting, and complex question still remains: is it still acceptable to enjoy it? 

Photo Credits: