I had another “Can you separate the artist’s work from who the artist is as a person?” conversation the other day. We’ve had the same discussion here at the SDMB several times. All the same examples tend to get repeated over and over: Phil Spector and Roman Polanski always topping the list, some arguments over Woody Allen but he’s always part of the discussion, and assorted spousal abusers and sexual predators who’ve managed to churn out a few brilliant novels or symphonies or what have you.
I found myself wondering are any great women artists being overlooked in these discussions? Certainly history has provided us with plenty of women who were/are horrible people. Surely some horrible women have been great artists?
Looking for examples of people who have actively done harm to others. Passive failings don’t really match up with the male examples that are usually brought up in these discussions (“passive” meaning, for example, someone who attained great wealth but only ever used it for their own frivolous material pleasures instead of charitable projects). Oh, and having political leanings that differ from yours does not qualify anyone for this list.
Leni Riefenstahl comes to mind but the argument is frequently made that Nazism was only a matter of politics for her and that she wasn’t really on board with a lot of it. I myself disqualified politics in just the paragraph preceding this one but I don’t know that I really buy any “passive Nazi” argument and, anyway, she actively worked to aggrandize Hitler through her own films. So, she might belong on the list.
Many have argued that Christina Crawford’s allegations against her mother were either unfounded or exaggerated but whether or not Joan Crawford belongs on the list it got me thinking that surely their must be a least a few horribly abusive mothers who could make the list.