07855 056671 ben@benoleary.co.uk

Art history is as synonymous with controversy and moral indignation as it is beauty, from Caravaggio’s syphilitic self portrait to Courbet’s The Origin of The World, Duchamp’s urinal and Postmodernism. Artists seemingly express themselves according to their own needs and desires, with apparent disregard for the sensibilities of the viewing public.

In our increasingly globalised world issues surrounding freedom of expression versus the protection of moral norms continue to polarise communities along religious, aesthetic and ethical lines. Questions asking what is right or wrong and indeed what right and wrong mean, have formed the nucleus of ethical debate since the birth of philosophy. Moral frameworks exist in societies as mechanisms to allow them to function, balancing the needs of society against individual freedoms. Through an evolution of systems of laws, conventions, social contracts and religion a general morality is codified. Despite the implied societal benefit brought about by the adherence to moral codes, the right to self expression is also enshrined in Western law. From the American First Amendment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act, freedom of speech and expression is implicit.

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