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Creative Complex: Art, Legacy and Accountability

Listen to Creative Complex: Art, Legacy and Accountability

Photograph of Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, Shaad D'Souza, Ashleigh Wilson and Luke Carman

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, Shaad D'Souza, Ashleigh Wilson and Luke Carman at the Wheeler Centre

The idea of the eccentric, outrageous creative genius – the 'mad, bad and dangerous to know' artiste – has proved surprisingly durable over centuries.

It's a mythology that has insulated a certain type of artist from public censure over bad private behaviour. Lately, though, the mood is far less forgiving for artists who have caused serious harm and hurt in their personal lives. But as a re-setting of standards takes place, we're left with some wicked problems. As Ashleigh Wilson has written in his recent essay, On Artists: 'If we denounce the artist, then what do we do with the work? Once we start removing paintings from walls, where do we stop?'

At the Wheeler Centre, Wilson is joined by Luke Carman and Shaad D'Souza for a broad discussion about accountability and creative legacies, in conversation with Bhakthi Puvanenthiran. They talk addiction, mental illness and cults of personality in the arts, as well as cancel culture and boycotts in the era of #metoo.

Who decides what qualifies as bad behaviour? Are we on a slippery slope of moral panic? And while individuals can make up their own minds about the art they enjoy in private, how should public institutions and media navigate this tricky terrain?

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