Perspective Lesson

Crespi

The New York Times’ Adam Liptak  looks at the ethical question faced by
courtroom artists who take on private commissions in an article titled ‘Question of Perspective in Courtroom Paintings’ .  The article focuses on Todd Crespi ( shown above sketching Bush v. Gore in 2000 ), an artist who clearly crosses an ethical line.

I’m quoted in the article as saying I’m “not very critical of Todd” , and it may appear that I condone his misrepresentations. I don’t.

But before condemning him I need to remind myself of a few journalistic lapses in my past. It used to be common practice to have artists do “re-creations” for a news stories, and lawyers still ask to have their day in court sketched after the fact.

Today I have a bright line : a sketch artist doesn’t sketch what he has not witnessed.

Once on a visit to the Folger I saw two nearly identical 17th century prints of a knight on horseback, the only difference was that one had the head of Charles I, and the other the head of Oliver Cromwell.

 

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About

Courtartist is me, Art Lien. I've been sketching the courts since 1976, and for most of that time the U.S. Supreme Court has been my regular beat. I've been working almost exclusively for NBC News since 1980. Courtroom sketching is a form of visual journalism or reportage drawing that is slowly dying out. Where once upon a time news organization each had their own artist covering a story, today a "pool" artist often sketches for all. It is a demanding and stressful discipline where the drawing is often done directly and under tight deadline.

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Posted in History, Supreme Court
One comment on “Perspective Lesson
  1. Jtamboli says:

    It is an interesting question. I’ve seen courtroom artists sketching out the Justices in one case and then the lawyers in another, and I’m assuming everyone touches up their drawings outside the courtroom. But in my mind it’s cheating to sketch the lawyers without having gone to the oral argument session.

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