Illustration can be regarded as evidence that painters can condense in images what writers articulate through words. However, illustration not only employs the visual code to establish relations with a text or, more precisely, with the text it aims to visualize, but also to exist and produce signification in its own terms. Visual representations of verbal representations appear as a privileged interart typology for enquiring into the issue of superiority or autonomy of different expressive codes. Indeed, statements of subservience, independence, or interdependence have marked the evolution of verbal and visual art throughout the centuries. Verbal works of art re-figured in, and as, paintings or illustrations direct our concern towards the aesthetic and ideological issues involved in visual transmutations of verbal works of art. Conceptualising and identifying illustration necessitates, first and foremost, a statement about the complexity of its status. An artwork that illustrates a text does interpret it. Certainly, its dependence on, or escape from, the verbal source, its connection with, or disconnection from, words that come before, and testify to another form of art, problematize its autonomy. However, while ontologically derivative, illustration aims at visually signifying far more than verbal signification. Furthermore, the visual medium can seize components of literariness that can be highlighted, enhanced, and metamorphosed by means of visual figuring. While being originally stimulated by another medium, illustration realizes itself through a specific medium and pursues a specific telos, a purely visual aim. While exploring aesthetic dynamics enacted by painters and illustrators who address, and elude, textuality, the study of illustration hosts enquiries into verbocentrism, aesthetic autonomy, and the interplay of subservience and originality. Discussing about the nature of illustration, today, also means re-considering long-standing interart issues and questioning whether it is possible to reconcile the pictorialist tradition, according to which writing can aim at pictorial effects in order to render the vividness of reality, and anti-pictorialist theories originally pursued by the Romantics, according to which expressive modes characterised by vagueness of the verbal image arouses intense poetic responses. In What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images (2004) W.J.T. Mitchell points to a necessity: “We need to reckon with images not just as inert objects that convey meaning but as animated beings with desires, needs, appetites, demands, and drives of their own.” In Cultivating Picturacy. Visual Art and Verbal Interventions (2006) James Heffernan points to another necessity: “The capacity to interpret pictures must be cultivated and deserves a name: picturacy.” Such demands, so powerfully voiced, are worth responding. And illustration provides ample, and visually alluring, ground for responses. Enquiring into the most controversial and challenging issues which have constituted the paragone of word and image throughout the centuries – pictorialism, organic art, interart osmosis, verbocentrism – has been intended to devise methodological orientations aimed at evaluating the legacy of historical antecedents. Illustration can only be comprehended by showing that it has been, and still is complicated, and that there are complex reasons for its being so. Indeed, it is a multi-layered human manifestation interweaving art and ideology. Visual culture is a highly recognised field of research, today: contributing to the study of illustration means taking part in the understanding of its nature and interrelations not only in a culture of visuality, but also in culture, viewed in its polysemous expressions.
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|Titolo:||Interarts and Illustration: Some Historical Antecedents, Theoretical Issues, and Methodological Orientations.|
|Autori interni:||SPINOZZI, Paola|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2007|
|Rivista:||JOURNAL OF ILLUSTRATION STUDIES|
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