Sign and words in the arts

Writing as a symbol of status
In the academic tradition of portraiture, the presence of books or writing implements in paintings contributed to the depiction of the subject as an educated person, if not a scholar.

In contemporary times, writing and allusions to alphabetic signs and symbols, even those
with obscure and mysterious origins, have characterized experimental art, with its predilection for semiotics.

From the Surrealists' automatic writing (André Breton)...

...to casual signs inspired by Japanese calligraphy (Giuseppe Capogrossi, Jean Fautrier);

from Jannis Kounellis's references to signage...

... to Joseph Kosuth's conceptual art...

...to words that invade the space of the work, supplanting the images, as in Ketty La Rocca's poetry, or Emilio Isgrò's "Erased Book".

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