How Badly Must Artists Behave Before We Can Dismiss Their Great Art?

Critics and Scholars Wrestle With How to Appreciate Creative Masterworks by Flawed Human Beings

Leni Riefenstahl and D.W. Griffith were cinematic geniuses who churned out racist propaganda. The Renaissance master Caravaggio was a murderous rogue. Then there’s the growing list of Hollywood auteurs and actors whose behavior has spawned lawsuits, police charges, and the #MeToo movement.

Can we appreciate great art that’s made by bad people? A panel at a Zócalo/Getty event tried to unpack that thorny proposition before an overflow audience at The Getty Center.

Moderator Amanda Fortini, a contributing writer to The New Yorker, dove straight into the question of whether there can be …