Art Offense

Published 09 Mar 2017

To draw the line between freedom of expression and art offense, it is worth to consider what can be viewed as offense. Cambridge Dictionary defines offense as “upset and hurt or annoyed feelings, often because someone has been rude or shown no respect” (“Offence”). Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives a more elaborate definition of the adjective ‘offensive’: it is something “of, relating to, or designed for attack”, or “giving painful or unpleasant sensations”, or “causing displeasure or resentment” (“Offensive”). This definition seems to be too wide as it can encompass almost every work of art. Indeed, somebody may find Mona Lisa as “causing displeasure”, but it cannot be the ground to regard this work of art as offensive. It is not possible to satisfy every viewer, and it is not the artist’s goal and destination to satisfy everybody. Art is inconceivable without freedom. Otherwise it looses expression and originality. Therefore, it will be more appropriate to regard as offensive only the works that “show no respect” at all for others’ feelings, according to the Cambridge Dictionary definition. These can be, for example, the works that offense religious feelings, or that are evidently insulting. Yet, even such works have the right to exist if they are the true displayers of the artist’s view, they only should not be displayed at public places in order not to offense others. However, the works of art that stir up hatred, discrimination, racism, and violence should be definitely regarded as offensive.

When Galleries Pay Museums

Museums accepting money from galleries give the art more cost but less value. This is nothing but another manifestation of consumerism. Besides, such practice is a serious temptation for museum curators, who may unconsciously transform the museums into a kind of show business. This trend can lead only to museums exhibiting works that are profitable and not that are creative. In addition, there may arise some doubts about who actually gets the money and what for: there is a possibility of bribery, as quite often nobody knows the sums. “There might not be any actual impropriety, but the goal is to avoid even the appearance of it”, said Mr. Altshuler, director of the museum studies program at New York University (Finkel). This practice is not ethical. It gives more opportunities to the artists who are already famous and have financial support and fewer opportunities to the beginners or simply those whose art is not favored by wide audience. Probably, a parallel can be drawn with the general state of affairs in the world: the rich become even richer, and the poor become poorer. This practice provides benefits to the promoted and well-known artists as well as the museums that have a considerable financial gain, but leaves aside the artists who only pave their ways in the world of art and have not acquired a sponsor yet. As a result, careers of young artists are threatened.

Works Cited

Finkel, Jori. “Museums Solicit Dealers’ Largess.” The New York Times. 18 Nov. 2007.
“Offence.” Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Cambridge Dictionaries Online. 2010. Web. 31 May 2010. <>
“Offensive.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Online. 2010. Web. 31 May 2010. <>

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