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Laws Versus Morals

The work of art I chose was Legality Is Not Morality by Samuel Durant. This work is not a picture, it is vinyl text on an electric sign. When I first looked at it I noticed that the words “is” and “not” were underlined and emphasized, showing that the artist probably strongly believed that there is no morality in the legal system.

When I thought about this work of art, it occurred to me that sometimes humans let the law determine what is morally right or wrong, rather than listening to their own moral conscience. In some cases that have been publicized on television or in newspapers, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime; either letting the defendant go free or giving the defendant an unjustified prison sentence. 

This made me understand that in society there are conflicts between legal systems and moral beliefs for individuals, and the two perspectives tend to clash with one another.

By Delia

Samuel Durant, Legality is not Morality, 2003  2004.635
Samuel Durant, Legality is not Morality, 2003. Vinyl text on electric sign, 74 1/8 × 56 × 9 in. (188.3 × 142.2 × 22.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; partial and promised gift of James A. Gordon and Andrea S. Gordon  2004.635
© Sam Durant. Courtesy of the Artist and Paula Cooper Gallery