Ideablawg’s Weekly Connections: From Justitia to Tupac

Art is the connection this week; art for art’s sake, art as a legal symbol, and art as the spoken word:

1. Art for Art’s sake: One of the best museum in Amsterdam is the Van Gogh Museum – a simple walk through does not do it justice (note – this is a foreshadowing of the next connection). The majestic melancholy of Van Gogh’s work is fully displayed as you walk pictorially through the artist’s troubled life. But wait, there’s more we can do in our digital world, we can actually walk through his paintings in this lovely 3D Animation by artist Luca Agnani. Soon we will actually be able to interact with the subjects of his paintings in “Loving Vincent,” a feature-length painted animation projectkickstarted” by the Oscar-winning studio BreakThru Films

2. Art as a Legal Symbol: As mentioned last week, Peter Goodrich’s article on Specters of Law discusses legal imagery and legal obfuscation. A fascinating passage in the article reveals the original image of Justice was not blindfolded. Based originally on the Greek Titan Goddess Themis, Justice was a blend of Greek and Roman female deities centered on law, order, and prophecy. Justice or Justitia was not depicted blindfolded until the Renaissance. In fact, Justitia, with her eyes wide open, viewed the world with utter clarity.  No one can hide from Justice. Why she became blindfolded is a bit of a mystery but whatever the reason, the blindfold became a symbol for the impartiality of the law. Today, there are very few images of Justice without a blindfold but the few are significant. Our own Supreme Court of Canada is pre-figured by the figure of Justice or Ivstitia;cloaked, embracing her sword of Justice, with no impediment to her sight. Even our legal progenitor, the British, have a golden statue of Lady Justice on the top of the Old Bailey criminal courthouse, outstretched with scales perfectly balanced but without blindfold. Banksy’s version of the Lady can be found here – blindfolded and unblindfolded – albeit much differently attired. 

3. Art as the Spoken Word: Lady Justice reminds me of Lady Liberty and Tupac Shakur’s poem Lady Liberty Needs Glasses. “Mrs. Justice” makes a cameo in the poem, which you can read here. Or, if you prefer audio, listen to Malcolm Jamal Warner read it from the “Rose That Grew From Concrete” album.

4. Art as Rhetoric: Finally, I give you the Greek orator, Demosthenes. If you want to learn about him and the reason why I was reading his speeches this week, read/listen to my blog/podcast from January 31. Unfortunately, this “art of persuasion” has not been nurtured in the law schools of today, either in its spoken or written form. Read “The Oration on the Crown" to see what we are missing.