Friday, March 20, 2009

Singer on Art Philanthropy

From Dwight Garner's recent New York Times review of philosopher Peter Singer's new book on world poverty, "The Life You Can Save":

"Some of Mr. Singer’s contentions are harder to stomach. 'Philanthropy for the arts or for cultural activities is, in a world like this one, morally dubious,' he declares. The Metropolitan Museum of Art bought a painting by Duccio in 2004 for more than $45 million, an amount, Mr. Singer says, that would pay for cataract operations on 900,000 blind or near-blind people in the developing world. He continues: 'If the museum were on fire, would anyone think it right to save the Duccio from the flames, rather than a child?'"