Artists and Exploitation – Mel Weatherhead

As this trip comes to a close i realize it’s time for me to put a post up here. It is nice to feel a little bit connected with your community back home when you’re on the road for 2 months.

A reflection that has been recurring in my mind is that of the exploitation of the artist. With an artist as a sister (and a really good one: jessweatherhead.com…ahem), I recognize that many artists paint certain ‘masterpieces’ as private and very personal pieces. I know Jess has a few select paintings or even sketches that probably I haven’t even seen. I’ve noticed this in a few different museums that we’ve been to. One that stands out to me is at the Prado in Spain where we saw Goya’s Black Paintings. What little I know of them is that they were painted on the walls of his house, making me assume that they weren’t intended to be taken down or sold or displayed elsewhere. It’s really hard to judge now what Goya had intended with these paintings, but I like to believe that they were for his own private collection and I felt weird walking through the display and seeing these personal, haunting pieces. I am selfishly glad that they are exposed to the public because they are absolutely incredible, but if he intended them for himself and no-one else what would he feel today if he walked into the Prado and saw them there with thousands of tourists streaming through daily? Raped, exploited, exposed to the world? It’s like framing someones journal and broadcasting it to the world. Just a thought that I’m developing. I’m seeing it more and more with the extensive museum visits and have just been questioning artist intent and how we deal with that nowadays.

Hope all is well on the home-front.