Prof. Conte and Dr. Condello on “Law, Visual and Narratives. From the Ancient to the Contemporary”

Monreale_photo_ru_Sibeaster02The next two classes (there will be no class on Friday) will concern the connection between law, visual representation and narrativity. We will discuss how and why, from the ancient to the contemporary era, figurative (and/or abstract) art has constituted a means of communication: from the authority to the mass, from the individuals towards the authority. We will do so by analyzing a series of images and by discussing their legal and political function: images convey a narration and can be, at the same time, normative. More information about the readings and useful links will be provided on Wednesday.

Reading: 

A. Baldini, “An Urban Carnival on the City Walls: The Visual Representation of Financial Power in European Street Art” (forthcoming in The Journal of Visual Culture): available HERE.

[image: Cathedral of Monreale, William II’s cornoation panel]

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13 thoughts on “Prof. Conte and Dr. Condello on “Law, Visual and Narratives. From the Ancient to the Contemporary”

  1. Antonio Belviso says:

    DISNEY COMICS & LAW

    Since I heard about the existence of this university course, two years ago, I had immediatly the idea and desire to make this written intervetion, a brief review about unusual argument, but very dear to me, concerning the so called “ninth art”: specifically, the branch of not realistic comics (not representing humans, but anthropomorphic animals embody typically human features) that has the most representative exemplarity in Disney comics. Comic is at the same time a drawing literature and a sequential art (W. Eisner), so it is the best union between visual arts, and literature. For this reason I think this is the best moment to talk about that. We know that Disney characters live in organized society, in America, in two different great cities: Duckburg and Mouston. In this context, law represent a fundamental aspect as in every advanced society. Also in this society laws are made, criminals are prosecuted, lawyers defend their clients, contracts are concluded, testaments are written. I will analyze below some important Disney stories linked to legal issues and, at the end, two great masterpieces.

    Well, let’s begin from italian production with IL MATRIMONIO DI ZIO PAPERONE (1984) by M. De Vita: this story is full of legal links. Uncle Scrooge wants to build a huge shopping center in the site where is located his golf course, in which he lost ignominiously, 20 years before, a match against his rival, Rockerduck; but he learns that in the middle of the field there is a strip of land, owned by Brigitte, his rejected lover. Initially to buy that field, he plans to use a mandate without representation to avoid arousing suspicions, but Brigitte is clever and decides to condition the conclusion of property purchase contract to the celebration of marriage between her and Uncle Scrooge. The wedding day is near, when a lawyer (de Truffis) suggests to Scrooge to enforce the right of adverse possession (usucapione) matured after 20 years in which the property has never been claimed. It is performed also a judicial experiment which proves that the golf ball in the match lost 20 years before, falls right on Brigitte’s land. In fact the ball is found as definitive evidence of the abandonment of the field. Scrooge in extremis enforces his right and avoid marriage. Very funny is the scene in which Filo Sganga (Jubal Pomp in english, who is often a Brigitte’s trickster business partner) tries to study a solution for the case, using Justinian law.

    Interesting for juridical concept of “nothing” is the story ZIO PAPERONE E LA SCOPERTA DEL NULLA (1990): after capturing a completely empty zone in the Solar System, Scrooge declares himself “possessor of nothing” (nullatenente) and he claims to not pay taxes. Legally impossible claim rights on “nothing”, Scrooge begins to sell shares of “nothing” without any taxation, but he suffers also the theft of “nothing” without this could constitute a crime. This will cripple current legislation for a certain period.

    About public law and figure of bonus princeps, there is the story realized by two of the best italian authors, Rodolfo Cimino and Romano Scarpa: ZIO PAPERONE E L’ELMO DEL COMANDO (1973): to cure a form of financial stress, cumulite unilaterale intranseunte (a peculiarity of Cimino’s screenplays was the use of neologisms and elevated language), Scrooge has to become head of State of a far planet. During the six months term in office, Scrooge is forced to wear a locked helmet on his head that will slap him every time he tries to write or simply think a unfavorable law (or if he omits to write a favorable one) for his people. This story refers ironically to the heavy responsability that a head of State should feel over himself, although this almost never happens. In one balloon it is written: “It is very easy to be a head of State; but it is very difficult to be a wise head of State”. Obliged righteousness, reverberates also in private bargaining: the helmet obliges Scrooge to write a valid contract in favour of Donald Duck, with certain date and “Duckburg” as place of subscription, without possibility to invoke the lack of jurisdiction.

    In ZIO PAPERONE E LA TRIPLICITA’ PROGRESSIVA (1970) by Cimino and Carpi, Uncle Scrooge pretends to tranfer substantial parts of his fortune to two fictitious alter egos (Taperon de’ Taperoni and Raperon de’ Raperoni) to circumvent the tax law; the title of the story is a clear reference to progressive tax system (enounced by art. 53 of italian Constitution) a fundamental principle in redistribution of income, but without any doubts not so much loved by Uncle Scrooge! The situation falls when Scrooge’s identity is compromised and he requires three times the same debt to his nephew Donald.

    Concerning International law, is the story ZIO PAPERONE E IL RICUPERO ARMATO, (1973)(Cimino, Cavazzano): Scrooge is searching a desert island not subject to any State sovereignty to escape from social consortium of tax laws and thievs’ robbery attempts (using this wordgame: “fuori dalla legge e dai fuorilegge”). The Beagle Boys use an island they own to deceive Scrooge that stores his money right in that island, making them rich. The case arrives in front of an international tribunal that establishes its decision on principle of the State immunity from foreign jurisdiction. The only way in Scrooge’s hands to regain the possession of his money is to cause an international war between Beagle Boys’ island and another island that Scrooge serves as a corsair. Beagle Boys will be captured, and as war prisoners they will appeal even to norms of Geneva Convention.

    Concerning juridical binding value of a contract, should be mentioned the famous story PAPERINO E LE LENTICCHIE DI BABILONIA by R. Scarpa (1960), probably the best italian story about ducks, that shows one of the most successful characterization of Uncle Scrooge. He loses everything, as the biblic Esau, due to a plate of lentils, but he regains his money thanks to a hopeless contract signed with Beagle Boys. Contract shown us in the last panel of the story, in a unusual pending final, among the finest of all times in the history of comics.

    Introducing the character of lawyer Cavillo Busillis is Scarpa’s story PAPERINA TESTIMONE OCULARE (1966): in this story Scrooge is determined to marry Brigitte (who wants to testify against him in a car accident dispute), to rely on the prohibition for the spouse to testify, prescribed also by art. 247 c.p.c. declared afterwards unconstitutional by sentence 139/1975 of Constitutional Court. Cavillo is shown as a misguided and influenced lawyer, but very careful to his fee!

    And now two great masterpieces. The first is one of the best stories ever written: DONALD DUCK IN “THE GOLDEN HELMET” (1952), realized by the greatest cartoonist ever, the Master creator of Uncle Scrooge and the entire universe of Duckburg, a giant in XX century narrative, the man who was able to transfer vices and virtues of human being in ducks, making them universal characters as only Balzac could do in Comédie humaine, with many aspects related to Commedia dell’Arte: his name is Carl Barks. In the story, a shady character, Azure Blue, supported by Sharky a fraudulent and irresponsible lawyer, vindicates the ownership of North America on the basis of a treaty concerning terrae nullius, dating back to the time of Charlemagne, proclaiming himself the last descendant of Olaf, the Viking explorer who first put his foot on American land in 901. Having Olaf’s map that indicates the point where he buried his helmet, Azure Blue departs to discover it to prove that Olaf landed really in America. Donald’s task will be prevent him from realizing this crazy plan. Sharky exemplifies with his macaronic latin brocards, the most unprejudiced legal technique, proposing questionable cavils, inverting burden of proof, etc.: he represents the figure of unscrupulous american lawyer, at the limits of legality.

    About Carl Barks’ stories, a peculiar iconic aspect concerns the character of owl-judge, in the famous story UNCLE SCROOGE IN “A LETTER TO SANTA” (1949), that will be henceforth the tipical depiction of Disney’s magistrates. Another story that should be mentioned is UNCLE SCROOGE THE HORSERADISH STORY (1953): a Scrooge ancestor, Hugh Mc Duck stipulates a contract with Swindle McSue, in wich he undertakes to deliver a load of horseradish; in case of fail, all his goods would be tranferred to McSue: this was the beginning of the decadence of clan McDuck.

    The second great story is a chapter of a graphic novel, my favourite book absolutely: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF $CROOGE MC DUCK (1992), a long and detaIled comic novel about the entire biography of Uncle Scrooge written by Don Rosa, based on hundreds fragments about Scrooge’s life deduced from Barks’ stories. A philosophical touching novel about human life in every aspect. In Chapter 4, THE RAIDER OF COPPER HILL, Scrooge become rich for the first time, thanks to a legal cavil, suggested by the expert H. Rockerduck, father of his future rival. Ingenuous Scrooge discovers a copper vein near rich Anaconda Mine, but Howard (the real owner of the mine, that sees in Scrooge himself as young) decides to help him and invokes in front of a judge, the Apex Law (from mining act of 1849). This law says: “Whoever owns land where an ore vein is closest to the surface, owns the entire vein”. In this way Scrooge obtains the property of the mine, but he is forced to sell it, to get the money he needs to free Mc Duck castle from mortgage.

    I sincerly hope to have aroused some interest to these fantastic stories, with this post.

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  2. Mattia Palatta says:

    Listening to the last part of this lesson I reminded of two examples of use of art (in this specific case sculpture) as a mean of legitimation of a newborn power: the Parthenon in Athens and Ara Pacis in Rome. Both of them are perfect representation of this tendency to use images as mean of propaganda and political and ideological affirmation of values. In the first case this is peculiarly represented in the sculptures on the multiple facades of the temple. In fact Phidias (the author of the embellishments and architect of the whole temple) was asked by Pericles to represent the virtues and the strength acquired from Athens as a consequence of the victorious military campaign leaded against Persians above all the rest of Greek polis, to underline the supremacy of the city (this will be also the main cause of the blowing of the conflict between Sparta and Athens). According to this requests, the artist composed different cycles of sculptures, representing different episodes such as the “Gigantomachia” (the mythological struggle between Olympian gods and Giants), the “Amazzonomachia” (the struggle against the female knights of mythical Amazon tribe) and “Centauromachia” (the struggle between gods and Centaurs): all of them were intended not only to represent the religious beliefs and mythological events, but to represent metaphorically the struggle (won by Athens and its allies) against barbarians (in the specific, the Persians) and so to legitimate the Athenian supremacy among the entire Greece for its role during the Persian wars.
    https://www.google.it/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdigilander.libero.it%2Fferdinando_vassallo%2FVasse.htm&ei=eXkuVcSVIYO9aYjmgeAD&bvm=bv.90790515,d.ZGU&psig=AFQjCNGIHDMijqW2Sk6sQBhjQnR8mwkrmA&ust=1429195506062858
    https://www.google.it/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.antika.it%2F008375_fidia-plastica-scultorea.html&ei=2HkuVc6jCs_W7QaAvIGICg&bvm=bv.90790515,d.ZGU&psig=AFQjCNHsFGIT1TEDWyWC0t0b1tD1E4EtYw&ust=1429195608251646

    Also in Rome we have a very similar example, which is represented by Ara Pacis Augustea. This monument was built by Augustus who wanted to celebrate and legitimate the rise of his princedom in Rome.It was intended in this case to celebrate the main ideals of Augustus’ political propaganda: the respect of mos maiorum and traditional values (represented by the embellishments showing episodes from Aeneid, such as the sacrifice to the Penati gods); the coming of a supposed golden age of wealthiness and prosperity for the whole Roman empire thanks to the policies adopted by Augustus himself (with the mysterious representation of a sort of a goddess); and the representation of the whole imperial family (with Augustus and his wife Livia part of it) who wanted to symbolize the conception of power and its continuity in Augustus’ idea (this last theme was directly linked to the Parthenon’s Panatenee procession).
    https://www.google.it/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fsulleormediaugusto.weebly.com%2Farte-augustea.html&ei=InsuVfr2JqaO7Aan_IGYDA&bvm=bv.90790515,d.ZGU&psig=AFQjCNGLokgKNBzu1KB_HS_C7vWOKWWxSQ&ust=1429195938859345
    https://www.google.it/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.artribune.com%2F2014%2F08%2Flara-pacis-come-non-lavete-vista-mai-spettacolo-di-luci-e-colori-a-roma-per-celebrare-il-bimillenario-dalla-morte-dellimperatore-augusto%2F&ei=wn4uVaqHHIjXaoCYgNgO&bvm=bv.90790515,d.ZGU&psig=AFQjCNGLokgKNBzu1KB_HS_C7vWOKWWxSQ&ust=1429195938859345https://www.google.it/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftanogaboblog.it%2Fportalino%2Fenea-un-figlio-di-venere-2%2F&ei=7H4uVZ2LD4LvasWlgegC&bvm=bv.90790515,d.ZGU&psig=AFQjCNEYv3zmJeXuIbhzxIVIXHcvihx-5w&ust=1429196900161247

    Both of them represents not only other examples of the use of images from political power as a mean of legitimation, but also the continuity of this sort of tradition of the connection between law, policy and art since the earliest ages.

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  3. Beatrice Giordano says:

    I was thinking about another case of legitimation through art: the Coronation of Napoleon. Last week we talked about the painting made by Jacques-Louis David which was commissioned by Napoleon; we see that he crowns himself with the Pope Pio VII watching him powerless. Napoleon is also at the centre of the painting and he was crowned in the Notre Dame Cathedral, while all the other coronations were held in the Reims Cathedral. He wanted to underline his power and the importance of his actions, because he fought in countless battles and thanks to his ambition and his skills he managed to become Emperor. This painting tells his story and says a lot about his personality: he’s proud of what he has done and the fact that he crowns himself with the Pope staring at him shows that he considers himself even more powerful than the Pope and the painting is a tool that makes his deeds memorable. As we see today, art has always been used to tell a story and also to legitimize the Emperor, even if in this case Napoleon seems to legitimize himself without the help of the Pope.

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  4. Martina Diglio says:

    What we said today, particularly regarding the role of art and artists and the autonomism vindicated by Flaubert and Boudelaire made me think about something that may appear slightly off-topic but in my opinion is strictly connected to the theme: the role of science and scientists. I think that in Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo the problem is stated very clearly: on the one hand, Brecht underlines the important role of the father of science in the society of his time, in seventeen century, commending the fact that he was the first one to write his theories in vulgar and not in latin, making them understandable by everyone. In this way, he contributed to unveil the truth and to delegitimize the main political power of his time, the Church, expressing theories contrasting with the scriptures on which its authority was built up. Galilei opposed a “scientific normativity” to a “religious normativity”. On the other hand, Brecht criticizes him(in the form of a self-criticism made by the same Galileo, in the end of the play), pointing out that Galilei didn’t fully delegitimize the Church because he forswear,he denied all his theories to avoid the condemn to die, even if only to continue his studies and research. In Brecht’s view Galileo missed the opportunity to make science autonomous from the power. It has to be taken into account that Brecht’s critic is dictated by what is happening when he’s writing this play: it’s 1938 and the nuclear fission has just been discovered. Some scientists of the time, such as Enrico Fermi, immediately understood the potentiality of such a huge discovery: the construction of a mass destruction weapon through which Governments could have shown “the effectiveness” of their power. The atomic bomb was then used by Americans in Japan and afterwards USA and Soviet Union established their power by the simple possession of a such terrifying mean and the threat of using it. Brecht blames Galileo because he was the one who didn’t say “No” to the power of his time, didn’t succeed in taking the science out of political power’s control, and, centuries after, scientists and science aren’t still fully independent from political power. This could make us think about the risks and the fears scientists have to face with while doing their job, and we could ask ourselves if they are really free to discover whatever they could potentially discover or if they are limited, to a certain extend, by the impact they could have on the establishment of governmental powers.

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  5. Anthony J. Cacciotti says:

    I’ve been thinking about all the Monreale mosaics shown in yesterday’s class, especially the one which represents the coronation of William II by Jesus Christ, and another similar episode came to my mind.
    In 800, the 25th of December, pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the Romans in St. Peter’s Basilica. There is still a debate about the meaning of that coronation: some say that Charles was ignorant of the pope’s intent and if he had known, he wouldn’t have entered the cathedral. Some others suggested that Charlemagne was indeed aware of it and certainly he couldn’t have missed the bejeweled crown waiting on the altar when he came to pray.
    But the point is that when this episode came to my mind, I immediately thought about the famous painting which represents this scene (image below): once again there is a strong connection between law, narrative and art. This painting, like many others, narrates a story; a story about law, about a king crowned by a pope, mixing secular and spiritual power, the sacred and the profane.

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  6. Elena Francis says:

    About the first lesson of this week i found an interesting example of legitimateness of power through art, in particular through paintings. During our lesson we analysed the mosaic in the Cathedral of Monreale, which contains a real narrative about the coronation of William II. In the picture we can see that William is crowned by Jesus Christ and this action has a deep and strong meaning. In fact this image is an instrument, a means of communication from the authority to the mass. The real intent of the mosaic is indeed to legitimate the power of the new king of Sicily. The same thing happened for the religious power: there is a famous fresco which describes the coronation of Sylvester by Constantine. The picture is based on the legend about the fact that Constantine would have given to Sylvester the imperial tiara, the power on Rome and on the whole western part of the Empire. We know that this story is a fake but the image has a great meaning and a strong power because the narrative behind it is a means to justify the power of the Church.
    Another painting that has not only a material and artistic value but also an historical and political one, is a painting situated in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, probably realized in 1494, known as the Pala sforzesca, but the author is unknown. Here the image:
    https://www.google.it/search?q=pala+sforzesca&biw=1366&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=QcgvVc-_MsGa7gaVh4Fo&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAg#imgrc=Q3lx3rNx8BBwxM%253A%3BKha02Q_hgtQS-M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fcommons%252Fd%252Fd3%252FPala_sforzesca_2.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fit.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FPala_Sforzesca%3B900%3B1264

    This image is nowadays shrouded in mystery, but we can say that behind it there is a real action of ‘propaganda’. It is important to say that when the painting was realized Milan was governed by Ludovico Sforza (il Moro), but the legitimate sovereign should have been his nephew Gian Galeazzo, which one day mysteriously died. So Ludovico had to legitimate his power in Milan, and what instrument could be better than art to express this political intent? This is the reason of the realization of this painting. In the picture we can see Ludovico il Moro with his family. The action represented is the coronation of Ludovico, which is made by the Virgin in person. Near the Virgin there are four Saints: Saint Augustine , Saint Gerolamus, Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Ambrose, the protector of Milan. An important detail we can note in the picture is that Saint Ambrose places his hand on Ludovico’s shoulder: this image has a strong symbolic meaning because it represents the divine benevolence and the support of the protector of the city.
    I think that this painting can express very well the role that art has in the past. The role played by art in the Middle Ages till the modern age is indeed different from the role that art plays today. In the past art was an instrument to justify a power, an Empire, a conquest. (the same thing happened in literature: comes to my mind the Eneide of Virgil, an opera whose main task was to justify the majesty of roman Empire, on the basis of the divine foundation of Rome).
    These days art has changed his meaning and this transformation started during the nineteenth century, with the Autonomism. On the basis of what we discussed in class we can reflect about the new meaning of art. Is art expressed in the same way of the past? and in particular, has art the same social function and the same aim? In class it was said that there is an element of continuity with the past which is the fact that art is always a medium to transmit something, to transmit values. A colleague of mine said that today art is more interior, more intimate maybe, a sort of therapy, through which the artist can express his feelings and emotion. We know in fact that with the Autonomism there is a deep change in the consideration of art compared with the Reinaissence: Art should be independent from power and separated from the political sphere. the motto of Autonomism was indeed “L’art pour l’ art” (Flaubert). Maybe it could means that an artist might be more free in his works than in the past. True? False? I wonder if today an artist is really independent. Is an artist allowed to create what he wants? There are limits to his activity? It is a very interesting issue and we could talk about this for ages, but what mostly exited my mind today was the reflection about the social function of art, the role of the artist and the doubts about his freedom in creating. In fact we could say that today artists are free to represent whatever they want. Today works of art are often social involved and represents social complaints which express social problems, opposition to the power, dissatisfaction in the infrastructure. Think for example about the Banksy’s statue of justice, represented as a prostitute; or about the operas of Cattelan. They are the most famous but i found that in 2012 an artist and expert in strategy of communication, Gianfranco Angelico Benvenuto, created a very interesting work of art in Milan, denouncing the problem of death on job: the name of the opera is “cento sogni morti sul lavoro” and it represents each woman or man dead working. Here the aim of the author is to give voice to this social problem and to eliminate the indifference of people.

    https://www.google.it/search?q=1oo+sogni+morti+sul+lavoro&biw=1366&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=E7wvVcuvBIKrPJ3EgfgC&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAg#imgrc=_

    But can we say that in this kind of operas the central element is the author’s point of view? or, on the contrary, are the new way of thinking and the new need of people that encourage the artist to create something that people could appreciate? So, is there a sort of fashion in art? and is this fashion that influences the artist or, on the contrary, is the artist that through his works creates a fashion? The answer to this question is very complicated, i’m afraid.
    Of course the social function of art has changed in comparison with the past. I think that maybe today art concerns social problems in a stronger way than in the past. Nowadays art is not seen only in an aesthetic point of view. Rather, if we think about the latest artist of our contemporary society we can note that it seems that there is no art! The main feature is an element of disturbing, something that goes against the classical style rule. Sometimes it is not even pleasant. It seems that the more an opera is strange and obscure, the more it is appreciated. Probably it expresses the contemporary state of mankind. A state that the french philosopher Lyotard defines speaking about the Post-modern Era and the post-modern condition of man. All men today lives their life in a world that has lost his values and where there is an existential impoverishment . In a few words, each man lives a deep crisis. Crisis which we can find in all fields of society ( policy, economy, religion ), probably developed from the multiculturalism of today.
    So in conclusion, i would say that maybe the artist today has a new role, a new task, which maybe concerns with the rediscover of an intimacy with itself and of values. Or maybe the artist has the task to represent the actual pain that each man has to suffer, and art is the only instrument that he has. The first concept was expressed by the artist Joseph Beuys ( I don’t like very much his art but he is a very famous and appreciated artist. I saw an exposition of his works when i went in Berlin time ago). He conveys this concept and the new role of the artist in particular with his activity known with the name “7000 oak”, a project concerned with planting oaks with the aim to create a huge forest. The idea of this strange kind of ‘opera’ is very interesting and innovative, i think. Of course he wanted to create something, the forest, but his main goal was to demonstrate the fact that our sensibility for values is increased with the mediation of art. Beuys was focused on everyday actions (like to plant a tree, which is not a real form of art) but with his project he stressed the importance of ecological problems and the need to respect nature. We can, therefore, affirm that the role of the artist today is different from the past. It is more important an action, a gesture, than the material object itself.

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  7. Elena Francis says:

    About the first lesson of this week i found an interesting example of legitimateness of power through art, in particular through paintings. During our lesson we analysed the mosaic in the Cathedral of Monreale, which contains a real narrative about the coronation of William II. In the picture we can see that William is crowned by Jesus Christ and this action has a deep and strong meaning. In fact this image is an instrument, a means of communication from the authority to the mass. The real intent of the mosaic is indeed to legitimate the power of the new king of Sicily. The same thing happened for the religious power: there is a famous fresco which describes the coronation of Sylvester by Constantine. The picture is based on the legend about the fact that Constantine would have given to Sylvester the imperial tiara, the power on Rome and on the whole western part of the Empire. We know that this story is a fake but the image has a great meaning and a strong power because the narrative behind it is a means to justify the power of the Church.
    Another painting that has not only a material and artistic value but also an historical and political one, is a painting situated in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, probably realized in 1494, known as the Pala sforzesca, but the author is unknown. Here the image:
    https://www.google.it/search?q=pala+sforzesca&biw=1366&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=QcgvVc-_MsGa7gaVh4Fo&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAg#imgrc=Q3lx3rNx8BBwxM%253A%3BKha02Q_hgtQS-M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fcommons%252Fd%252Fd3%252FPala_sforzesca_2.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fit.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FPala_Sforzesca%3B900%3B1264
    This image is nowadays shrouded in mystery, but we can say that behind it there is a real action of ‘propaganda’. It is important to say that when the painting was realized Milan was governed by Ludovico Sforza (il Moro), but the legitimate sovereign should have been his nephew Gian Galeazzo, which one day mysteriously died. So Ludovico had to legitimate his power in Milan, and what instrument could be better than art to express this political intent? This is the reason of the realization of this painting. In the picture we can see Ludovico il Moro with his family. The action represented is the coronation of Ludovico, which is made by the Virgin in person. Near the Virgin there are four Saints: Saint Augustine , Saint Gerolamus, Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Ambrose, the protector of Milan. An important detail we can note in the picture is that Saint Ambrose places his hand on Ludovico’s shoulder: this image has a strong symbolic meaning because it represents the divine benevolence and the support of the protector of the city.

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  8. Elena Francis says:

    I think that the painting i posted in the first comment ( Pala sforzesca) can express very well the role that art has in the past. The role played by art in the Middle Ages till the modern age is indeed different from the role that art plays today. In the past art was an instrument to justify a power, an Empire, a conquest. (the same thing happened in literature: comes to my mind the Eneide of Virgil, an opera whose main task was to justify the majesty of roman Empire, on the basis of the divine foundation of Rome).
    These days art has changed his meaning and this transformation started during the nineteenth century, with the Autonomism. On the basis of what we discussed in class we can reflect about the new meaning of art. Is art expressed in the same way of the past? and in particular, has art the same social function and the same aim? In class it was said that there is an element of continuity with the past which is the fact that art is always a medium to transmit something, to transmit values. A colleague of mine said that today art is more interior, more intimate maybe, a sort of therapy, through which the artist can express his feelings and emotion. We know in fact that with the Autonomism there is a deep change in the consideration of art compared with the Reinaissence: Art should be independent from power and separated from the political sphere. the motto of Autonomism was indeed “L’art pour l’ art” (Flaubert). Maybe it could means that an artist might be more free in his works than in the past. True? False? I wonder if today an artist is really independent. Is an artist allowed to create what he wants? There are limits to his activity? It is a very interesting issue and we could talk about this for ages, but what mostly exited my mind today was the reflection about the social function of art, the role of the artist and the doubts about his freedom in creating. In fact we could say that today artists are free to represent whatever they want. Today works of art are often social involved and represents social complaints which express social problems, opposition to the power, dissatisfaction in the infrastructure. Think for example about the Banksy’s statue of justice, represented as a prostitute; or about the operas of Cattelan. They are the most famous but i found that in 2012 an artist and expert in strategy of communication, Gianfranco Angelico Benvenuto, created a very interesting work of art in Milan, denouncing the problem of death on job: the name of the opera is “cento sogni morti sul lavoro” and it represents each woman or man dead working. Here the aim of the author is to give voice to this social problem and to eliminate the indifference of people.
    https://www.google.it/search?q=1oo+sogni+morti+sul+lavoro&biw=1366&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=E7wvVcuvBIKrPJ3EgfgC&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAg#imgrc=_
    But can we say that in this kind of operas the central element is the author’s point of view? or, on the contrary, are the new way of thinking and the new need of people that encourage the artist to create something that people could appreciate? So, is there a sort of fashion in art? and is this fashion that influences the artist or, on the contrary, is the artist that through his works creates a fashion? The answer to this question is very complicated, i’m afraid.
    Of course the social function of art has changed in comparison with the past. I think that maybe today art concerns social problems in a stronger way than in the past. Nowadays art is not seen only in an aesthetic point of view. Rather, if we think about the latest artist of our contemporary society we can note that it seems that there is no art! The main feature is an element of disturbing, something that goes against the classical style rule. Sometimes it is not even pleasant. It seems that the more an opera is strange and obscure, the more it is appreciated. Probably it expresses the contemporary state of mankind. A state that the french philosopher Lyotard defines speaking about the Post-modern Era and the post-modern condition of man. All men today lives their life in a world that has lost his values and where there is an existential impoverishment . In a few words, each man lives a deep crisis. Crisis which we can find in all fields of society ( policy, economy, religion ), probably developed from the multiculturalism of today.
    So in conclusion, i would say that maybe the artist today has a new role, a new task, which maybe concerns with the rediscover of an intimacy with itself and of values. Or maybe the artist has the task to represent the actual pain that each man has to suffer, and art is the only instrument that he has. The first concept was expressed by the artist Joseph Beuys ( I don’t like very much his art but he is a very famous and appreciated artist. I saw an exposition of his works when i went in Berlin time ago). He conveys this concept and the new role of the artist in particular with his activity known with the name “7000 oak”, a project concerned with planting oaks with the aim to create a huge forest. The idea of this strange kind of ‘opera’ is very interesting and innovative, i think. Of course he wanted to create something, the forest, but his main goal was to demonstrate the fact that our sensibility for values is increased with the mediation of art. Beuys was focused on everyday actions (like to plant a tree, which is not a real form of art) but with his project he stressed the importance of ecological problems and the need to respect nature. We can, therefore, affirm that the role of the artist today is different from the past. It is more important an action, a gesture, than the material object itself.

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  9. Jakob Zarari says:


    I want to post a very important painting for the Austrian history: The signing of the Austrian State Treaty in Vienna on May 15, 1955. This treaty re-established Austria from a juridical point of view after the Second World War. After ten years of occupation by the USA, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and France, this treaty, signed by these four occupying powers and the Austrian government finally established Austria as an independent and democratic state.
    During the period of occupation, the future of Austria was ambiguous: On the one hand, it was not clear, for how long the occupation will last and on the other hand, there was the fear that Austria could have been separated like Germany. In addition, many Austrians did not believe in their own country, because they had experienced the difficulties of the interwar years and they thought that Austria could not survive as an independent state.
    Considering this situation, the signing of the treaty was a big success and a strengthening for an own national identity (independent from the German).

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  10. Chiara Casuccio says:

    Something about what Prof. Conte explained us in the first lesson of this week :
    -First of all just a tiny hint about the Martyria Sanctorum, represented in many early Christan (and not only) works and mosaics. These stories are the most representative examples of what we said about the ‘exempla’ ( I’m sorry for the pun!) because their aim is to show how a christian should witness his faith till death.
    Under the reign of Diocleziano, Christian communities started to be felt as a danger for the Emperor’s new project of reform. After about 20 years of religious tolerance, something changes in Diocleziano’s mind. It’s hard to identify the reason of a so sudden change of mind (we’re about in 303-304 dC), but I think that a reason could be find in the Acta Martyrum (the minutes of the persecutions) which testify that the first executed where souldiers: this means that the reason is not just ideological (the refuse of christians of the official religion etc.) but something more pragmatic needed to be defended. If primitive Christianity remained essentially indifferent to the empire, faithful to the gospel principle ‘gives to Caesar what is Caesar’s ‘, now, the new Christians are in open conflict against the empire. Their leaders are no longer limited to proclaim to abandon the old gods, to give up wealth etc., they call Christians to obey a different law, to refrain from civil offices, to desert the army. All this stuff puts in danger the reforms of the ‘burocratic military monarchy’.
    What is important to notice is that from the acta martyrum we can see that in many cases the judge was willing to “close an eye” (in fact the number of so-called ‘Lapsi’, those who have made recantation, is superior to the number of the condemned) but were just Christians who pushed toward the sentence, aware of witnessing their faith, and become precisely exempla for all future believers.

    – Another thing that strikes my mind is the so multifaceted relationship, in its interconnections, between the empire and the church. We spoke about the need of Norman’s king to be legitimated by the pope to reign in Sicily, shown in Monreale’s mosaics, and Prof. Conte mentioned the importance of Christianity in all the Middle Ages, not only in the policy but also in the art.
    After the great persecutions the ascent to the throne of Constantine marks the beginning of the rise of the church from ‘one of the many religions’ to THE religion. The reason underlying this choice is, for some historians, more complicated than ‘just the conversion of Emperor’.
    The story of the accession to the throne of Costantine, is a story of a (self)legitimation itself. As we all know, in defiance of the principle of non-dynastic succession established by the tetrarchic reform by Diocleziano, Costantino illegitimate child of the Augustus Costanzo Cloro, was acclaimed by the soldiers as new Augustus, and in 310 dC he starts his descent toward Italy to conquer the rest of the kingdom: he was not willing to share it with others. Between the 310 and 312 ( the year of the final battle of Ponte Milvio against Massenzio) Costantine professes his favor for the sun god, the souldiers’ god : he needed the favour of the souldiers and above all, a monoteistic religion helped him to impose his idea that to a single god who ruled in the sky corresponded one emperor on earth. The entry in the court of Ossio, bishop of Cordova, will greatly effect the conversion of Constantine who cared the alliance with this new God, which could be very useful (not only for G’d’s favour itself). In fact as even Massenzio understood, in Rome, many senators were converting to Christianity, and also in the project of the Emperor, the Christian fervor could become the new ‘nerve’ of the empire: he wanted to recover the impetus and the belief for the empire, that in Diocleziano’s empire were missed. Constantine wants to transform the church from a spiritual movement to a tool of realization of the new empire: he wants to convert the Gospel’s message to be active in the world, in an active collaboration of the church with the empire.
    So, when in the 325 he begins the works on the construction of a new capital in Costantinopoli (ex Bisazio), the new center of the empire, far from the old Rome (which was the memento of past empire and home of the Senate), it doesn’t really matter if it actually was in Costantine’s mind to leave Rome to the Church, or not, because, as also the Donatio Costantini titestifies, this is wat the chuch -looking itself for legitimation- perceived.
    But NB : we have to wait more than 50 years for the Tessalonica edictum, and during these years, not all the emperors embrace Catholicism. Other believes (such Ario’s one) better helped the idea of the emperor as a medium between the world and God.

    – Speaking of old mosaics I also want to swap the point of view and notice how from a single representation we can rebuild a story : I’ll take the exapmle, once again, of a Saint’s mosaic in Milan, Saint Ambrogius :

    Looking at it we can notice that he is wearing the senator’s tunic ( the one called ‘lati clavi’, a wide stripe, that provided him the appellative of ‘spectabile’) and we can reconstruct his personal story of how, from being a sanator and a civil magistrate, he turned to be Milan’s bishop, and we can understand how he used not only christian laws and procedures to solve the cases he had to deal-with while being a bishop, but also roman ‘leges’, showing that also in this period it stats the interconnection of the two laws that will be the basis of all the later period.

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  11. Emanuele Ballabene says:

    Something about the article by Andrea Baldini.
    In this article Baldini shows us photos of graffiti recently made in european cities. The first represents Mario Draghi with Angela Merkel:like in a casino,he is a poker player, she is with him waiting for the result of the game. They are seen like the most important responsibles for the economic situation in Europe.
    The second represents Gollum, a character in the “Lord of the rings”:his most famous assertion (in the italian version:Il mio tesoro!)demonstrates his desire of power.
    The last represents an alternative picture of Lady Justice:she is partialy blindfolded and her scale gives a strange result:money power is more important than need of european people.
    Graffiti are a widespread form of art,even if sometimes isn’t tolerated:but I consider this phenomenon important, because of its ability of communicate many ideas and arrive to anyone looks at a simple wall, expressing an incredible imagination. Who mades graffiti wants to communicate his discomfort, wich sometimes is shared by society:in this case the economical crisis.

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  12. diana martellini says:

    when i heard about the legitimation through the art, i couldn’t help thinking about the lesson concerning law and architecture by doctor Gialdroni: even if it was another type of art, i think that we can link both the messages the italian supreme court and the message professor Conte talked about during the last class to one single goal: whoever orders such artworks, wants to comunicate to the people to win their support, to get them to stand up for the same ideas, to gather people’s blessing and approval for their work and even make them join their “fights” it it comes to that.
    getting back to law and visual, a good example i think can be the paintings from the “risorgimento” period like Cavour’s portrait by Michele Gordigiani

    or this one,

    which represent the “congresso di parigi”, painted by di Édouard Louis Dubufe (Cavour is in this picture as well, he’s the first in the left side).
    Both this painting are fine example of how art is used to comunicate, to get approval, to celebrate an event, to celebrate a single person in order to give the people a message, in a time where most people were illiterate and the was no internet to spread a message widley enough or in a way that could be actual effective.

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  13. Hichem Sebaibi says:

    Hi everyone !
    I wanted to have your opinion about a specific subject I’ve studied in France, iconoclasm and law, and more peculiarly the Islam iconoclasm, law and narrative.
    I’m sad to observe that most of the time western point of view don’t consider the very specific narrative beyond the prohibition of images in whatever forms it can embodied.

    As I said before, I’ve studied a little bit the relation between muslims iconoclasts and the images or representation and actually they have a very interested narrative in the act of condemn representations.
    The point is that, for them, God is the only divinity who diserve adoration through differents forms, this is the central message of any God messengers. So, God sent messengers because men began to worship statuts, images and finaly men. So the messengers said rationaly to people to don’t worship statuts or images because it’s just false representation of the reality, it’s just rocks or woods unable to hear something or to respond. Then, the messengers explained to people that all these representations are just tools in order to allow some men to avail other men (as we’ve corretly seen in class, most of the time representations are used in political ways in order to legitimate unfair situations). Historically we can see that it’s true, most of the icons or symbols are tools used by some people to achieve a specific purpose which led finaly to the enslavement of the majority of men even if nowaday it’s more complicated to discern it.

    So the narrative beyond iconoclasm is to assume their freedom vis-à-vis the enslavement of men over other men in order to worship the only one who deserve to be and to be strictly egal as human without any distinction of races or social ranking (in order to understand well this conception we can refer to the final speech of the prophet of islam hereby linked http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/lastserm.HTM). I find their point of view very fascinating and very actual in our society ruled by money where we can observe a powerful pression made over workers all over the world.

    What do you think about it ?

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