The Deadman Night Rider

A forum for evening students of the SMU Dedman School of Law and other outlaws..

Friday, June 10, 2005

A little Friday fun...

I read this article on Slate yesterday about the painting American Gothic - the picture of the farmer holding a pitchfork standing with his wife in front of a farmhouse. It is obviously one of the most famous paintings in the world and almost everybody recognizes it, regardless of how little they know about art. According to the article, when a Harvard professor showed it to his class of 59 sophomores, they all recognized it, but only about half knew the name, and only 5 knew the artist. It turns out that there is an interesting backstory to the painting, and even some controversy, but almost no one knows anything about that (I certainly didn't). Knowing the history of the painting actually changes the way you look at it, though - even the artist evidently came to feel differently about it as time went on.

While I was reading the article, I thought about how the law is alot like that - everybody knows something about the law, some know a little more, and finally a smaller group are experts down to the minutia-level, and that level of familiarity has to influence their views. Also, both are produced by a relatively tiny, self-contained group of specialists that effect a large number of people, which entails certain risks. The art world draws alot of criticism for being insular and too far removed from the rest of society to really produce the kind of work they should - a sentiment I hope to keep in mind as I go through this process.


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