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280 × 210 mm
416 pages
385 illustrations, 324 in colour
01 Aug 2011

Art, Word and Image 2,000 Years of Visual/Textual Interaction John Dixon Hunt, David Lomas, Michael Corris

This book is the first attempt to chart the history of art and its interaction with written language. Art, Word and Image examines the use of words (or language) in many genres of art – most often painting, but including prints, the book as art, sculpture, installation, and performance. This book asks what does it mean when a painting is ‘invaded’ by language? How do the two forms converse and combine, and what messages are intended for the viewer? In addition, other important themes that are also addressed include the naming or titling of paintings, the uses of narrative in art, and the literary connections and aspirations of artists.

Art, Word and Image is constructed around three wide-ranging essays by John Dixon Hunt, David Lomas and Michael Corris. These essays discuss the use and significance of words in art – from Classical Greece and Assyria, through to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, to modern times and today's digital media, where the words and image question has become a central issue. The essays cover a variety of movements (Pre-Raphaelites, Cubists, Surrealists, and Lettrists, for example) and many artists, among them Duchamp, Picasso, Ernst, Twombly, Michaux, Warhol and Kruger. The book also includes ‘spotlight’ essays on artists whose work engages substantially with questions of word and image: Blake, Klee, Schwitters, Haack, Pettibon, McCahon and Walla.

This ground-breaking book will form a new framework for thinking about the interactions between word and image in the visual arts.

With contributions by Jeremy Adler, Stephen Barber, Rex Butler and Laurence Simmons, Michael Corris, John Dixon Hunt, Michael R. Leaman, David Lomas, Joseph Viscomi, Hamza Walker, Barbara Weyandt and Michael White.

‘Although commonsense seems to dictate that visual art is predominantly a visual phenomenon, when examined closely, as this book does, there are few areas not touched in some way by the use of words (or language) . . . [a] comprehensive survey . . . With its many colour illustrations and references for further study the book will be of particular interest to anybody working with words or language in their art.’ – Arlis

‘this is an attractive and thought-provoking publication. Especially noteworthy is the treatment of the works of outsider artists, such as August Walla, which may well pave the way for further thematic examinations of contemporary art . . . those with an interest in twentieth-century art will find several of the seven essays a fascinating exploration of how artists in the modern world have employed text in their work.’ – Cassone

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John Dixon Hunt is Professor Emeritus of the History and Theory of Landscape at the University of Pennsylvania. He is editor of the journals Word and Image, and Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, and author of many books including Nature Over Again: The Garden Art of Ian Hamilton Finlay (Reaktion Books, 2008).

David Lomas is Reader in Art History at the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester. He is the author of The Haunted Self: Surrealism, Psychoanalysis and Subjectivity (2000).

Michael Corris is Professor of Art and Chair of the Division of Art at SMU, Dallas, Texas. He is the author of Ad Reinhardt (Reaktion, 2008).