By now, you should have heard of Peter Handke, an author from Austria: He has just won the Nobel Prize in Literature today. Congratulations!
I’m not really sure how I feel about this, partially because I have never (consciously) read any of his writings, and partially because he was more or less defending the Serbs in the Yugoslav war, which didn’t go down well at all at the time.
That leaves the interesting and quite difficult question whether an artist should be judged by his art alone (in particular when considered for an art prize), or if their personal views on society, politics, etc. should come into play as well. Clearly, the artist imbues his pieces with something of himself; that’s why we often want to know more about them, their inspirations, their life, their routines…
But is this truly important? Would the Nike of Samothrace be any less of a masterpiece had it been carved by a mass murderer?