Verbal and Visual

“It is in the remarkably fluid and complex interaction of [the verbal and the visual] that one of the great motors of human culture can be discerned.  Humbling the image is no antidote to humiliating the word.  It is far healthier to nurture in both what is best called a mutual regard.”—Martin Jay, Force Fields: Between Intellectual History and Cultural Critique, 1993.

“The relation between text and illustration is clearly reciprocal.  Each refers to the other.  Each illustrates the other, in a continual back and forth movement [recursive] movement which is incarnated in the experience of the reader as his eyes move from words to picture and pack again, juxtaposing the two in a mutual establishment of meaning…Such an intrinsic relation between text and picture sets up an oscillation or shimmering of meaning in which neither element can be said to be prior.  The pictures are about the text; the text is about the pictures.” —George Cruikshank

“I hold to a theory re book illustration, to wit: Book illustration is dull, inept, stupid, stifling, and gratuitous when ti seeks to provide a kind of visual nomenclature for the text, when it strives to make palpably visible the images trapped in the text; it is doubly useless when it snares and limits the range of words in terrible cages mechanically contrived.  A writer could have no worse fate.  Book illustration is meaningful, splendid, useful, apt, and bright when it performs as a partner, paralleling the text; the illustration should extend implications, deepen tragedy, heighten insights.  The illustrations should stand as works, without the text; they should comment on the text, argue with it, elevate it, and ultimately be an extension of it…Ultimately, it is the illustrator’s task to extend the context of meaning, to overlay the text with a structure of the artist’s devising.” —Leonard Baskin Sculpture, Drawings, Prints, 1970.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s