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Letter to the Editor: Artists aren't slaves to public tastes

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to your editorial ["November 17: Love it or hate it, that's democracy," Vol. 5, No.43, Nov. 15-21] as I feel the sweeping statements you made there cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

You assert that "Artists complain that they are starving, but aren't willing to write, draw or perform what people want to read, see or hear." To reduce art to a reflection of popular tastes is hardly a view that encourages a richer, more culturally diverse world.

Some of the most enduring, remarkable works of art came from artists who were flying in the face of public opinion. One thinks immediately of the riots at the premiere of Stravinsky's 'Rites of Spring', the furore surrounding Bob Dylan's electric revelations in the mid-60's, and the universal condemnation poured upon the publication of some of D.H. Lawrence's novels.

I, for one, would prefer to live in a society where art is not solely a commodity, and where support is available for those willing to challenge the status quo. Are you really suggesting that Jeffrey Archer has got it right while Van Gogh was wrong?

Paul Webb
Bratislava

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