Artists behaving badly

Why does it seem that the most successful people are the biggest assholes? Latest example being Kehinde Wiley, the portraitist credited with painting Obama in 2018, who is accused by at least three people of sexual abuse and inappropriate touching. In other words, abusing his position as a prominent artist – which doesn’t seem like an isolated story given Chuck Close, Pollock, Rivera, Picasso, Gauguin – the list is long even when limited to famous visual artists. That he is being accused of abuse is not surprising seeing as Wiley is firstly a capitalist taking advantage of others – and a prime follower of today’s unfortunate art world successful artist trend of being mainly an art manager and marketer who seeks to exploit others for personal gain – in this case mainly Chinese artisans, who execute his works a la Koons or Warhol. He is an adherent to the modern principle of the “artist” not showing presence in their work and only being the ‘conceptual’ master behind the images he mass produces, markets and sells. And sure enough his ‘hand’ is invisible because he plagiarizes images from old masters then has his assistant(s) photograph ‘street’ people in the same pose and superimposes this over a decorative pattern also probably appropriated but definitely not executed by him. Kind of like having others manifest a photoshop collage you put together except in boring repetition. But hey it sells, right? Not my idea of art but it is definitely accepted today as legitimate. The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) jumped into the fray to defend the abusive asshole because several museums and galleries cancelled their exhibits of his work over the issue. For their part a group of those abused by the artist put out a joint statement saying that “…artistic merit, while significant, should not take precedence over issues of moral injury and human dignity.” I agree, at least as long as Wiley is alive and continues abusing his position of privilege it is only justice to deny him exhibit space by those professing an aversion to moral turpitude. Once he is gone, history may patiently pass judgement on whether the value of Wiley’s art, in the context of art history, surpasses the stain of his personal conduct. After all, many of the abusive artists mentioned here earlier who have passed away still hang prominently in major museums all over the world in spite of their conduct.