"Correct Art History" is Tackling How We Perceive Male Artists With Problematic Pasts


As a society we often times praise men who were considered geniuses at their craft, but look away at their sexist and abusive pasts. In early November, artist Michelle Hartney challenged problematic artists by putting up wall labels next to specific works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was the creation her own work, Correct Art History. Instead of listing biographical information, Hartney added the misogyny, racism, and sexual violence that is not usually added to their labels. Some of her focuses include Pablo Picasso, who made sexist comments about women, and Paul Gauguin, who was a pedophile. In the times of the #MeToo Movement, now more than ever are people and museums addressing these problems and looking at the ethics of what artworks and labels get put up.

For Further Reading

Michelle Hartney has performed this at two major museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago. Explore her page to read the labels.

Discussion Question

Michelle Hartney personally believes that the artworks should stay up in museums, but with revised labels, so that we can use them as a learning tool and address their issues. Do you agree with this? Or do you believe that the artworks should not be hung up at all?

Action Item

Think of other industries where men with problematic histories are still praised for being geniuses while there personal issues are ignored. On the other hand, think of those industries in which someone challenged accepting abuse as a norm and started a revolution.


Read more on The Guardian | Image: Nate Brav-McCabe