Ekphrasis writing about art history

The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg "And first Hephasestus makes a great and massive shield, blazoning well-wrought emblems all across its surface, raising a rim around it, glittering, triple-ply with a silver shield-strap run from edge to edge and five layers of metal to build the shield itself. The god then hammers the shield into five sections, and covers them with images of the earth, sky, sea, sun, moon, and stars.

Ekphrasis writing about art history

ekphrasis writing about art history

Writing About Art Ekphrasis One particular kind of visual description is also the oldest type of writing about art in the West. Called ekphrasis, it was created by the Greeks.

The goal of this literary form is to make the reader envision the thing described as if it were physically present. In many cases, however, the subject never actually existed, making the ekphrastic description a demonstration of both the creative imagination and the skill of the writer.

For most readers of famous Greek and Latin texts, it did not matter whether the subject was actual or imagined.

2 / 0 / Texts as Images – Writing with Images

The texts were studied to form habits of thinking ekphrasis writing about art history writing, not as art historical evidence. Two things about it became central to the genre.

First, the passage implicitly compares visual and verbal means of description, most dramatically by weaving elements that could not be part of a shield like movement and sound with things that could be like physical material and visual details. This emphasizes the possibilities of the verbal and the limitations of the visual.

Second, the thing being described comes to seem real in the imagination of the reader, despite the fact that it could not exist. During the Italian Renaissance, the rhetorical form became an important literary genre and, in a surprising twist, artists made visual works based on written descriptions of art that had never existed.

Like Homer, Keats mixed descriptions of things that could have been visible on a Greek vase with things that could not have been. Unlike Homer, Keats made himself and his own experience of viewing the vase an important part of the poem.

This shift in emphasis reflects a transformation in the genre of ekphrasis, which increasingly came to include the reaction of a particular viewer as part of the description of an object.

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Travelers and would-be travelers provided a growing public eager for vivid descriptions of works of art. Without any way of publishing accurate reproductions, appearances had to be conveyed through words alone. William Hazlitt, John Ruskin, and Walter Pater, to name three great 19th-century writers in English, published grand set-pieces of ekphrasis about older as well as contemporary art.

For them, the fact that the object existed mattered a great deal. The goal of these Victorian writers was to make the reader feel like a participant in the visual experience. The more convincingly this was done, the more effective the writing was judged to be.

John Ruskin was the most influential Victorian writer about art, famous for his impassioned defense of the painter J. Turner and his brilliant ekphrastic passages. Like Homer and Keats, Ruskin mixed specific visual details of the picture with allusions to movement and sound in his description of what the painting looked like.

Unlike them, his goal was to persuade readers to believe in his imaginative understanding of an actual work of art. It is a sunset on the Atlantic after prolonged storm; but the storm is partially lulled, and the torn and streaming rain clouds are moving in scarlet lines to lose themselves in the hollow of the night.

ekphrasis writing about art history

The whole surface of the sea included in the picture is divided into two ridges of enormous swell, not high, nor local, but a low, broad heaving of the whole ocean, like the lifting of its bosom by deep-drawn breath after the torture of the storm.

Between these two ridges, the fire of the sunset falls along the trough of the sea, dyeing it with an awful but glorious light, the intense and lurid splendour which burns like gold and bathes like blood. Along this fiery path and valley, the tossing waves by which the swell of the sea is restlessly divided, lift themselves in dark, indefinite, fantastic forms, each casting a faint and ghastly shadow behind it along the illumined foam.

They do not rise everywhere, but three or four together in wild groups, fitfully and furiously, as the under strength of the swell compels or permits them; leaving between them treacherous spaces of level and whirling water, now lighted with green and lamp-like fire, now flashing back the gold of the declining sun, now fearfully dyed from above with the indistinguishable images of the burning clouds, which fall upon them in flakes of crimson and scarlet, and give to the reckless waves the added motion of their own fiery flying."In the Musée des Beaux Arts" by WH Auden Auden's poem is one of the most famous examples of ekphrasis: the recreation in words of a work of art.

It describes Pieter Brueghel's painting Landscape. Writing for art is a concise introduction to the subject of ekphrasis, and the first study to offer a useful general survey of the larger philosophical and theoretical questions arising from the encounter of literary texts and leslutinsduphoenix.com: Stephen Cheeke.

Art History as Ekphrasis – Sang Bleu

Art History as Ekphrasis Jas´ Elsner The history of reflections about what art history is and how it might best be done, about how art works and what art is, is long and distinguished. Ekphrasis. One particular kind of visual description is also the oldest type of writing about art in the West.

Called ekphrasis, it was created by the Greeks. If ekphrasis is “the verbal representation of visual representation,” a definition most experts now seem to accept, the first part of that definition can only mean: all verbal commentary/ writing (poems, critical assessments, art historical accounts) on images.

1. Writing about images (on ekphrasis) Readers of early drafts of this project, and of the related project What is Interesting Writing in Art History? suggested I should include descriptions of images, and not just images physically present in the text.

There is a long history of novels and poems that include descriptions of images such as artworks: Proust’s description of the yellow wall in.

Ekphrasis - Writing About Art