Is art related to morality ?Is art related to morality ?

14 Answers

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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I voice the opinion of Oscar Wilde that there is absolutely no morality or immorality in Art. Art is a representation, of nature which intends to bring out specific aesthetic points from it. Morality is an ideal of thought and manner, and could not possibly fit within the canons of artistic imagery.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Most definitely.

Taste is a mark of ethical appeal in my book.  If you don't know what art is, let alone good art, then you have not read or listened to any form of language (visual, verbal, or written) whatsoever.  To know art is to engage in it in the form of criticism, at the very least.

Remember the line from High Fidelity?

"Awhile back, Dick and Barry and I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like..."

If you don't like The Beatles or Shakespeare or Picasso or Kubrick or Seinfeld (at least one?), then where have you been?


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lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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I think it depends on two factors - the artist and the audience. Some art is clearly related to morality in that it fosters a certain moral view. Theatre has, historically, been a vehicle for expression of socio-politicall issues and a mode to encourage dialogue and change. Much literature is reflective of the cultures and values from which it evolved, and many writers, poets, and visual artists use art to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with moral belief systems. Religious icons are also an art that is clearly symbolic of a particular moral compass.

However, whatever meaning or moral statement the artist makes, it is up to the viewer, the audience, to understand and relat it to his or her own life. The individual backgrounds and beliefs of the audience members then also come into play and the art itself becomes a dialogue between creator and viewer that depends on both to give it meaning.

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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Whether art is related to morality or not is dependent on two things independent of each other. One is the artists intention of the artist, the other is the perception of the person viewing the art.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Art is related to morality if the artist wants it to be. Art is a reflection of the innermost feelings of the artist. I think it can be related to morality but it just depends on what the artist is trying to capture in their artwork so by the same token it can be related to immorality as well.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The issue of whether art should be related to morality is one issue, and whether it is related to morality is another.   I think the central issue, however, is that art should not be didactic.  I'm not sure you can reflect existence without dealing in some way with moral issues, although that depends heavily on your definition of morality.  But if the purpose of your art is to teach or preach, then it is not art, it is propoganda or public relations or something else, but not art.  Art reveals and reflects, at least art that is of the highest level.  A political novel, for instance, like 1984, may be vitally iimportant, entertaining, whatever, but it is not art at the highest level.  It is designed to teach.  It is political.  It has an agenda.  It is not a fair and unbiased presentation of human existence.  It is a political novel vs. totalitarianism.  It is not top-tier art or literature. 

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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What if true art is the most moral pursuit of all? If artists, as creators, create what their spirit leads them to create. This would be truly moral. However, what we’re probably talking about here is the perception between the creator and the receiver, and that is frequently left to one’s subjective opinion.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Is it related to morality?  In some ways, I guess I'd say yes.  "Related to" is a pretty broad category.  I could say that it often reflects moral attitudes of the times in which the art is produced, although sometimes it challenges that morality also. Since art is a cultural value, we can also argue that in some ways our values - and therefore our morals - are determined and framed at least in part by the art itself.

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anthonda49 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Wow, my eyes played tricks on me when I answered the first time. I thought it said mortality! Too much pollen in the air here. "Art" in the sense of anything created from the imagination frequently does not represent morality. There are too many slasher movies and those with gratuitous violence for my taste. Even with the ratings on movies, kids can get in to see whatever they want to. They find violence to be cool. When 911 happened, we were watching the whole thing unfold on TV in my classroom. When the second plane hit the towers, one of my students said, "Cool!" I lost it and said, "It's cool to watch thousands of people die? I don't think so!" Two days later, the shaken student came to class and confided that his father was being sent to help locate bodies in the rubble. That's what I mean about the violent movies kids watch. There is no sense of reality. When my students would write short stories, it was hard to get them to avoid senseless violence and death in their topics. They didn't understand that things happen for a reason, and it's the reasons that make humanity understand what motivates others. The sexual images in many books and movies is too graphic and made too cool for kids. Later, the unwanted pregnancies and consequences make the subject not so cool anymore. There are more and more instances of sexual misconduct at school recently compared to when I began teaching 35 years ago. Too much is seen that the students copy. I am teaching more and more students whose parents had them at the age of 15 or younger and who are at a disadvantage having been raised by a child parent. These kids struggle to succeed because they haven't had good parenting from a mature adult.

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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I think it all depends who you ask. 

Mark Twain was certainly concerned about racial morality in Huckleberry Finn and Pudd'nhead Wilson.  George Bernard Shaw was concerned about sexual morality and class relations in Pygmalion.  Robert Louis Stevenson was concerned about man's dual moral nature in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I think that all of those authors would happily admit that they had a certain moral aim in writing their books (even though Twain joked that anyone seeking a moral in Huck Finn should be shot).

Does this mean that these authors were any more moral than the average person?  Certainly not.  And are there thousands of books of great literary quality that do not promote any moral aim, and perhaps even promote a lack of morality?  Absolutely yes.

So, I think we can say that art relates to morality when it wants to. 

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anthonda49 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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I don't think so. I believe the artist sees something that moves his spirit to record for others a vision they might not see for themselves. Of course, some paint for money and fame, but many artists died penniless and unrecognized.

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arrellbelle | Student, College Sophomore | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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I would assume so, some art really does incorporate the idea of morality or whatnot and some art doesn't. It really depends on what artwork you're viewing and the message being implemented within the piece. Honestly, when i'm drawing or painting, I like to include themes with my pieces and morality is one of them. I, as well as other artists, like to challenge themes like these. 

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taiba3 | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Art is related to morality if the artist wants it to be. Art is a reflection of the innermost feelings of the artist. I think it can be related to morality but it just depends on what the artist is trying to capture in their artwork so by the same token it can be related to immorality as well.

i agree. there is some connection between art and morality.coz art will present or portrays your inner or spiritual feelings.u can say some how there is a connection between art and morality.if u r doing poetry .poetry is also presenting ur inner feelings and emotions.thatsn art  like william shakespeare and chaucer and so on.

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subrataray | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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To me life itself is art .The artist recreates what his imagination demands , and in his process of recreation he becomes one with art .The question of morality and immorality varies from society to society , age to age , and artist to artist .Throw away the layers of conventions , you would find  no morality .The desert , the sky , the tempest ,and  the flood have no mask .They represent the bare reality of nature .A naked baby and a nude  teen to the eye of society , are moral and immoral .The reason perhaps is that the nude teen instigates man's sex-instinct .The artist is above the commonplace , he discovers the beauty in nudity .

Again to a Shakespeare neither Cleapotra nor Hamlet is immoral .The are simply the projections of the enigmatic nature of humans .

People other than the artist must respect the wholesomeness of the society .So ,what to an artist is the impartiality to his art , that to Tom, Harry , and dick , is immoral .