Abstract – speech by Wolf D. Prix

Since the topic of the session is “The Art of Law” I have to clarify my point of view: I am not an advocate – I am not a lawyer – I am an architect and an artist. And the most important way I am dealing with laws is when I negotiate our fee with the client.

I would like to discuss three topics:


1) Right as art

Since the Age of Enlightenment, the term “art” has mainly referred to various expressions in the visual arts, such as painting, illustration, sculpture and architecture as well as those in music, literature, and the performing arts such as theater, dance and film. Since the Modern Age, the term has broadened to include photography, comics, installation and media arts. (Wikipedia)

Even if one erroneously assumes that the law and art have similar objectives, since they both claim to strive towards beauty and a belief in goodness, I don’t see any correlation, except that both professions require creativity and innovation. But then all occupations that call for innovation and creativity would become “artful devices” or “artworks” – which would mean doctors, politicians, officials, tax auditors and controllers, etc., would be artists.

In contrast to art, Wikipedia tells us that “law” is defined as the system of rules to regulate a society’s behavior. In essence, these two terms are contradictory. Art shouldn’t create rules of behavior – on the contrary. The point of art is to change and expand social behavior.

In our anti-historical age, words and terms are used in an increasingly inflationary manner, also due to fake news. For example: Architecture. Today everything is architecture. We have treaty architecture, there is an architect of the German Reunification, there is architectural policy. Everything is architecture – everyone is an architect.

This overlooks the fact that architecture is not a document but a three-dimensional expression of a society’s values. If one looks for similarities in the terms architecture and treaty, etc., I only see that a structure is being considered, such as the structure of the treaty, the structure of politics.


2) Law in art

There are numerous allegories of law in painting. Just think of Lady Justice, the figure who represents justice with a blindfold and a scale in her hand. Or of the allegorical images of the battles for freedom, such as the symbolic painting of the French Revolution by the French artist Eugène Delacroix, or of the film “Battleship Potemkin” by Sergei Eisenstein. (Wikipedia//Sergei Michailowitsch Eisenstein)


3) The right to freedom in art

Digital and parametric information doesn’t just make our current societies more convenient, the multitude of algorithms also renders the societies easier to control. More than half of the human population already lives in a futuristic city.

Robots that can detect potential dangers and respond more quickly will at least change if not replace many of the current jobs. According to scientific studies, we will only find work in the traditional sense in the social and creative sectors.

In our interim period, in which the old systems haven’t died and the new ones aren’t born yet, we have to redefine the term “work”. In this process, the right to free art as a new way to understand the world will play a key role.