Poetry And Literature
#ARTWISEUP by SAL McINTYRE
JULY 13, 2018 


When an art piece combines two different media in order to cast light on a certain concept, especially when that concept is perhaps ethereal, shifting or otherwise evading definition, the cross-section of artforms creates a particularly dynamic and shimmering expression that somehow describes the subject without pointing directly at it. A masterful way to communicate the shades of beauty hiding in between a shifting presence, the teamwork active by way of visual art and the written word is positively transportative.

Many an artist has been inspired by epic works of great literature or by the intimate musings of contemplative poets, and whether well known or unknown, another dimension of feeling arises from the artwork involving poetry and prose— one that allows for a broader range of resonant possibilities regardless of personal ties with the subject specifically.

 
Joan Miro – Gravure sur Bois 4, woodblock

Joan Miro worked frequently with various publications, often illustrating books, essays, poems or making posters for arts events. Hidden in the pages of this utter mountain range of Miro vocalizations is a special glimmer, where the presence of words infuse his abstract forms with layered meaning. These double-sided publication spreads, Gravure sur Bois 4 and A Toute Epreuve, are woodblock prints from 1958 that seem practically dancing with quiet flame.

Joan Miro – A Toute Epreuve, woodblock 1958

Lawrence Weiner is a conceptual artist known for his genre-carving work from the 1960s, his art frequently involving text and typography. His thoughts and words not only push the viewer’s mind to think in new ways, but their visual execution becomes a vehicle for the ride, being simultaneously beautiful, articulately balanced and compositionally descriptive— making the arrangement of his words part of the poem itself, and being reminiscent of one of history’s greats, Allen Ginsberg. This print Written in the Sand somehow takes on the rhythm and sequence of perhaps personal reflection happening over time seaside.

Lawrence Weiner – Written in the Sand, offset lithograph  1997
"...another dimension of feeling arises from the artwork involving poetry and prose— one that allows for a broader range of resonant possibilities..."

Marc Chagall took on large book projects, creating hundreds of illustrations printed as etchings in fine works that sometimes took thirty years to come to completion. Pliouchkin Looking for His Papers is from a series created to illustrate Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls book, one of the greatest novels in the Russian language, the etchings of which Chagall designed between 1923 and 1927. And The Wolves and the Ewes is from a series of illustrations made by Chagall between 1927 and 1930 for fables and poems written by Jean de la Fontaine, commissioned by Ambroise Vollard. With the literary weight forming a foundation for these works, Chagall’s lucid linework becomes transformative.

Marc Chagall – Pliouchkin Looking for His Papers, Dead Souls, etching
Marc Chagall – Fables de LaFontaine, The Wolves and the Ewes, etching 1927

Benton Spruance was the American painter, printmaker and architect from Philadelphia best known for his magnum opus of stone lithographs titled Moby Dick Passion of Ahab. Often working with mythological and religious themes, Spruance’s vision takes on an enigmatic quality of universality, right in tune with the monumental allegory of which this great literary work is about. With Man Against MonsterThe Spirit-Spout and The Rose-Bud to name just a few, it is not difficult to experience common ground.

Benton Spruance – Man Against Monster, stone lithograph
Benton Spruance – The Spirit-Spout, stone lithograph
Benton Spruance – The Rose-Bud, stone lithograph

And Georges Braque adds layers of complexity to his lyrical forms with the addition of beautiful handwritten script and thought provoking poetic text. The French words of this piece La Forme translate to “Form and color do not merge, they are simultaneous,” and the following piece Dans Deux Choses offers the thought “Of two things thought to be alike, one is always a duplicate. Reason is reasonable."

Georges Braque – La Forme and Dans Deux Choses, offset lithographs 1993