Monday, May 31, 2010

When Good Artistic Intentions Do Not Equal Good Results

A few weeks ago, Joe Fiorito wrote a column for the Toronto Star addressing the gap between one artist's intentions and the result. While everyone is entitled to freedom of speech and expression, I have to say I agree with his assessment.

Jason Kieffer, the young man who wrote that awful little book lampooning this city’s street people, was at a symposium a while back, the purpose of which was to allow him to explain himself.

He seems a nice kid; if only niceness were all.

The cartoons are hurtful; the people lampooned are defenceless; worst of all, each caricature is accompanied by a map indicating where the person depicted can be found. Given that these men and women are already vulnerable, it seems to me they are now at greater risk.

I recommend reading the whole column here. Other reviews of Kieffer's work (some positive) can be read here.


Anonymous said...

While I agree, there is often a chasm between intentions and results (both in art and other things) - I find Fiorito's article a little goofy. Would Fiorito condemn Hugo's Les Miserables or Daumier's
Third Class Carriage on the grounds of whether or not they got consent to draw or describe the people in them? I'm not saying Kieffer is a Hugo or a Daumier, but I can't see from the quality of the criticism where Fiorito is in much of a position to judge.

Leah Sandals said...


Yeah... I think the thing is here that Kieffer's work is maybe not as up to snuff as a Hugo or Daumier (not that I've read either, so can't say what I think of those).

Perhaps the point that I appreciated is just that good intentions are not enough to produce good work. It's an obvious point, but bears repeating in these instances.

Also, I had a similar qualm when I first heard about the book, but was unsure how to phrase it. Though Fiorito has a tendency for the dramatic, he managed to basically get to the core of what my worry was... even if his take is more civics-oriented than art-oriented.

Anonymous said...

The gallery label is here should you want to read it.

rv: muddogi :-)

Leah Sandals said...

Cool! Thanks!

I do think we accept this kind of content more in historical works where as contemporary viewers we may not know it is present.

The "stamp of approval" of a display from a museum changes acceptance levels too, no?

Anonymous said...


You are correct to not directly associate Kieffer with Hugo and Daumier, but bearing mention rather poorly conceived and horribly derivative work with said names you have already given credence to infantile crap. Do me a favour and don't continue.