Art as Text

Topics: Art, Arts, Art critic Pages: 9 (3325 words) Published: January 28, 2013
Word count 2494.
Andrey 01/02/13

Argue how a contemporary artwork or element of visual culture may be understood as a kind of information that can be read, as a text or'tissue of quotations

Artwork, in any form; painting, sculpture, dance, drawing, installation, can and often is interpreted in a multitude of different ways. It is the different interpretations and meanings that different individuals give to a single artwork that make a single thing understood in a variety of ways. An example of this comes in the possibility of understanding artwork as though it can be read. In this instance we may attribute a textual representation to an artwork. The following essay aims to examine this idea of artwork as a type of text, which can in a manner of speaking be read. The viewpoint of several art critics will be considered, as well as an in depth look at a recent exhibition focused on this particular concept.

Krauss (2012) stated a particularly interesting perspective of this idea of artwork as a text, originally diverged from the work of Greenberg. Greenberg stated that abstract paintings created in the mid 20th century in actual fact represented the high point of artistic achievement in the modern world. Krauss (2012) claimed that Greenberg’s approach to this subject had been limited in it’s capacity to see the possibilities of it. She explained in her writings the more elusive qualities of an artwork which are often left unexplained and become overlooked. These aspects of an artwork, she says, are the ones which you cannot physically point out to another person. This she claims is where the artists real intentions lie within an artwork. Is it this underlying intention that we refer to when we describe a painting as being able to be read?

According to Krauss’ earlier comments (1972), it is the underlying responsibility of the artist of a modern work to challenge the art world and challenge the standards we become comfortable with. It is not necessarily what we physically see in am artwork that challenges us, but what we interpret the artwork to mean or represent. This is what we “read” from on artwork. In this sense, we may be able to describe an artwork and understand it in terms of text, because we give it a story, or a history. Krauss (1972) stated that “We can no longer fail to notice that if we make up schemas of meaning based on history, we are playing into systems of control and censure. We are no longer innocent. `For if the norms of the past serve to measure the present, they also serve to construct it.’” Krauss’ goal in writing this was to free both artist and critic from succumbing to certain expectations.

To say that art equals text refers more precisely to a notion that a piece of art may become a sort of text to be read, it provides the ability to indulge an aspect of poststructuralist literary and cultural theory that was popular some 10 years ago, philosopher Derrida became renowned for expression that theirs is nothing existing outside the text (Derrida, 1989). That is, all that exists is subject to endless interpretation and analysis, together with the interpretations themselves. In this method of thinking and observation of artwork, a painting or other piece of art could become a text, to be mined for but it will enrich our understanding concerning something. we are able to hunt for symbolism or aesthetic structure in a work of art, using techniques just like those utilized in literary analysis. In different words, we are able to obtain meaning. although this analytical approach to artwork may appear unremittingly rational, analysis may also cause the acknowledgement of mystery — as in a freudian analysis of the unconscious, through a dream or “coincidental” event — and interpretation will eventually cause a way that some things will never be absolutely unraveled. a piece of art will retain its je ne sais quoi. Moreover, an analysis of artwork in regards to it’s text is in theory...
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