Yale Bulletin and Calendar

February 1, 2002Volume 30, Number 16

The letter "K" takes on artistic form in "Stable Abberance" by Jonathan Lasker.

Exhibit celebrates ways language and
visual form express human experience

Works by contemporary artists who used language in their visual art are on view in a new Yale University Art Gallery exhibition titled "Language and Form."

The exhibit features artists who have been interested in the ways language and visual form express human experience. The 30 works on display range from artist books to mixed media sculpture and paintings on canvas.

Organized by Jennifer Gross, the Seymour H. Knox Jr. Curator of European and Contemporary Art, the exhibition is located on the first floor of the museum and will run through March 30.

The use of language in visual art has a long tradition, as exemplified in the hieroglyphics in Egyptian art, calligraphy in Chinese and Islamic art and medieval illuminated manuscripts. In the 20th century, says Gross, "it is in the early synthetic works of Braque and Picasso that the elements of language first surfaced in the visual field with a modernist consciousness; that is as a means to understand how painting articulates itself or how signification resides on the surface of the picture plane." Poets such as Ian Hamilton Finlay, who is represented in the exhibition, took typographical control of their works creating what is known as "concrete poetry." Angela Lorenz also experimented with language in her art; her book "Lay Text" has latex pages that stretch to reveal the hidden meanings between the letters on the page below.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Johanna Drucker, director of media studies at the University of Virginia and a well-known creator of artist books, will give a lecture on "The Artist and the Written Word" on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 5:30 p.m. Her talk is the second in the Lydia Winston Malbin Lecture Series (see related story.)

Gross will give a gallery talk on the exhibition on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m.

The exhibit is supported by the Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund and by an endowment made possible by a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


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Exhibit celebrates ways language and visual form express human experience

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