Luigi Lacchè

«Justice Armed with the Law»: Notes on Images and Aesthetics of Law during Fascism

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Fascism; visual culture; aesthetics law; justice; Alfredo Rocco; Marcello Piacentini; Palace of justice; Milan; Mario Sironi; Arturo Martini

This article deals with the relations between law, justice and visual culture of Fascist regime. The question to which we would like to give some (provisional) answers is whether and how fascism conceived and elaborated an aesthetic of law and justice capable of possessing elements of consistency, originality and autonomy. How did fascism then visually represent law and justice? Was there a ‘real’ policy aimed at informing the aesthetic communication of that «set of symbols, allegories, icons and stories» that are fully part of the legal discourse in a given era? Which artistic and social media have most contributed to ‘staging’ the normative dimension of fascism by reflecting and at the same time conditioning the conduct and perceptions of law? The Fascist State aspired to be – as Mussolini said in 1932 on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the seizure of power – a «strong State» but also a «State of justice». It suppressed political dissent but aspired to be a «regime of justice» serving to build up consensus in the new dimension of the «ethical State». The rule of law was seriously undermined (if not destroyed) by the authoritarian turn but Fascism pursued also the idea that law and justice might help to mould the «new Italians». New laws and codes were intended to play their part in forging the new «Fascist man», but this aim was rendered more visible through architecture and visual arts, introducing as they did the appropriate symbols and representations. The most important ‘manifesto’ of fascist visual culture on law and justice was doubtless the huge Palace of Justice built in Milan in the Thirties. In this essay we take some examples to show how images and aesthetics did contribute to create a complex and contradictory discourse.

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