The character of a creative idea counts for nothing, artistically. It can be silly or evil, no matter. The rigor of an artist’s obedience to the idea counts for everything. Though in league with the devil, Rodchenko’s art sheds angelic light because it is so wholehearted in its wrongedness.

Peter Schjeldahl (on Alexsandr Rodchenko, an unrepentant Stalinist)

My go-to quote for debates over the morality of certain art. I thought of it during the Salem hand-wringing last year and finally decided that while their best work, the track “King Night,” is rigorous and wholehearted, it isn’t exactly offensive. So evil doesn’t need to factor into that evaluation. And while some of the rest of the band’s work might be misanthropic, it just isn’t good enough to deserve the moral scrutiny it unfortunately received. It doesn’t belong in the same company as Rodchenko or Leni Riefenstahl or hell, Kanye West, where the art is worth debating, not to mention, defending.

Quote tagged as: criticism peter_schjeldahl art morality
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