Postmodern Frame Essay - Text in Art.

Topics: Conceptual art, Jenny Holzer, Iran Pages: 5 (1913 words) Published: January 25, 2013
The use of text within to the visual arts can be traced back as far as the inscribed carvings found on cave walls created by the Indigenous population of Australia approximately 46000 years ago. However, over the past few years, the use of text in art, also known as the art of typography, has become a frequent means of communication for artists in the creation of their works. Text within art can be projected, scrawled, painted, computerised and carved to the point that a work may be created of nothing but language. The art of typography is the technique of arranging type in such a way that makes language visible. It treats fonts as individual entities to be enjoyed by the audience. Some artists deal with language as a character on its own as opposed to a surface to draw upon. These artists place texts in ways that are intended to stimulate the way an audience perceives a work, to evoke emotion or to create a statement. However, others, particularly graphic designers, tend to focus on the decorative powers of text. Regardless of the artist’s intentions, the appearance of text within art can shift our appreciation of their sound and meaning. Artists that explore text in art include: Barbara Kruger, Yukinori Yanagi, Katarzyna Kozyra, Jenny Holzer, Wenda Gu, Shirin Neshat, Miriam Stannage, Colin McCahon and Jenny Watson. Artists such as Jenny Holzer, Wenda Gu and Shirin Neshat explore the cultural implications of language in art and the importance of language to identity through the inclusion of text that reflect a postmodern concern with the way we receive information in our contemporary society. Jenny Holzer is an American conceptual artist who belongs to the feminist branch of artists that emerged during the 1980’s. Originally an abstract painter and printmaker, Holzer became heavily interested in conceptual art and began creating works using text. The introduction of text within Holzer’s work occurred gradually however, over time, they have entirely replaced images. These works are usually displayed in widely viewed, public areas. Holzer’s works typically deal with the idea of communication. She is highly aware of the power of words and the power of the media and therefore has a focus on the ability of language to distort or manipulate truths. “I was drawn to writing because it was possible to be very explicit about things. If you have crucial issues, burning issues, it’s good to say exactly what’s right and wrong about them, and then perhaps to show a way that things could be helped. So, it seemed to make sense to write because then you could just say it… no painting seemed perfect. In particular, I didn’t want to be a narrative painter, which maybe would have been one solution for someone wanting to be explicit.” – Jenny Holzer. Through the use of text in art, Holzer is able to transmit powerful environmental, social and political messages that reveal beliefs and myths and show biases and inconsistencies that highlight her social and personal concerns of today’s contemporary society. Holzer’s works are confronting and provocative and inspire us to make changes. They make us remember that language is not always a factual statement; it can be true or false depending on the context. Holzer forces us to analyse our own behaviour and consider how we have been influenced and manipulated. Her works are designed to make us stop and think about how we are maturing socially. Holzer’s truisms “MONEY CREATES TASTE – 1982” and “PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT - 1985” are part of her 1983-85 series – “Survival”. These are LED installation pieces consisting of large scale text that were projected onto a billboard in Times Square, New York. The inscriptions were bright, clear and menacing and connected themselves to the everyday glow of the city. The phrases were flicked over the busy intersection for two to three seconds creating an element of surprise and capturing the audience’s attention. The main focus of these works was to make...
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