Art & Law / another sketch

Art & Law / another sketch

a random list of lawyer-artists: Piero della Francesca, Heinrich Heine, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Robert Schuhmann, Goethe, Adalbert Stifter, Igor Stravinski, Gottfried Keller, Franz Kafka,Kurt Tucholski, Wassily Kandinsky, Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Antonie Tapies, Winfried Bullinger, Bernard Schlink Julie Zeh

Not surprisingly lawyers who are also writers are not at all uncommon. The art of writing truly is heart and brain of the legal profession, a necessary skill but also a reason to enjoy this profession even in its mundane days. You know that you are a lawyer when you do enjoy writing about a defect vehicle with a bivalent engine and when you put effort into writing it well.

Most of the visual artists I know about on the other hand actually fully changed careers (the contemporary artist and law professor Winfried Bullinger, Berlin, being a notable exception). Most of the musicians did (with the exception of E.T.A. Hoffmann who managed to be a lawyer, writer, musician). Some of the writers did, too, like Julie Zeh, and yet their legal training shows in their writing in many ways, starting with insights into the legal profession they have been privy to.

These observations (writers might stay lawyers, visual artists and musicians change careers, starting out as lawyers) seem to make perfect sense. After all the law does not use the language of visual forms (though you can’t practice law without abstraction, a link between the visual arts and the legal profession that Kandinsky pointed out), and lawyers do not sing, except for the occasional lullaby to their children.

But art and law, may it be writing, music or visual arts, are very similar in their understanding of their work as a process not only in the sense that every trade necessarily needs to follow certain steps to come up with a product or a desired result but in the sense that the result is the process itself.

This is nicely illustrated in music. You can only experience music during the unfolding of the process, even though the process might have a name (Symphony No. 4 in B Flat Major, Op. 60; II. Adagio), unless you are willing to entertain the thought that time is illusionary you can never meet up with the work in its completed, “static” form. The same is true for writing. Creation (on the writer’s side of the process) and recreation (of the reader) of any kind of text relies on a complex process-orientated if time disconnected cooperation between the writer and the reader. The product of writing might be a book, a stack of paper etc. but only in the decoding process can this product be assimilated into the readers realm.

In the visual arts this connection sometimes might seem less obvious, the results (depending on the art form) being seemingly static. A painting is a painting is a painting. But even the tableau painting is the product of a singular unfolding process – and probably can only be truly enjoyed if that process is comprehensible to the viewer through the painting/ the art object. (I have seen dead paintings before, a sad sight, but a good painting is process).

As much as humans might desire stasis, translating to: security, at heart they know that stasis cannot be achieved, at best an illusion of final laws, regulations etc.:

In the more than thirty thousand years of art history (watch the wonderful Werner Herzog documentary, “The Cave of Dreams”) and legal activity (responding to the need of their communities to reflect changing circumstances in their way of cooperation) the arts as well as the law have left testimony to the human desire to understand the harmony of process and metamorphosis, of inevitable change. I believe that people in their heart of hearts wish to learn the art to dance to the music of time (Anthony Powell) rather than to be dragged by the music of inevitability.

für viele:
Hermann Weber, Juristen hinter Literatur und Kunst, Tagung im Nordkolleg Rendsburg vom 16. – 18. September 2011, Reihe: Rechtsgeschichte und Rechtsgeschehen, Band 18, 2013, 2. Auflage, Gebundene Ausgabe, 208 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-643-11768-7

Klaus Kastner: Literatur und Recht – eine unendliche Geschichte, Neue Juristische Wochenschrift (NJW) 2003 S. 609-615

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