The incorporation of words, letters, and numbers in paintings became a significant preoccupation of such artists as Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Ren Magritte, and Joan MirÃ³. Beginning in 1915 and continuing through the 1940s, artists associated with the Dada and surrealist movements radically altered perceptions of what a painting or an art object should be. The Dada & Surrealist Word-Image examines this fusing of words and images, its impact on traditional forms of art, and the issues it raises for today's modernist agenda.
Curator and art historian Judi Freeman offers a close iconographic analysis of Dada and surrealist word images, evaluating the specific meaning of words joined with images they illuminate and/or obfuscate and suggesting their vital relationship with the preoccupation with language that characterizes much contemporary art. She focuses on works such as Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q. and Magritte's La Trahison des images (Ceci nest pas un pipe), that forever altered what was accepted practice in the visual arts.
Professor and critic John Welchman studies the broader semiotic and structuralist questions surrounding the creation of word images during this period. He assesses the strengths and the weaknesses of attempts by Rosalind Krauss, Julia Kristeva, and Michel Riffaterre to come to terms with several key aspects of the form and the language of the avant garde; examines the change of attitude toward language that became visible in the puns, anagrams, and word plays of the period, particularly in works by MirÃ³ and Magritte, and focuses on the 'deconstruction' apparent in many Dada practices. A selected bibliography on the word-image in Dada and surrealism is included.
The Dada & Surrealist Word Image is copublished with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and distributed by The MIT Press.
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