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Words, Script, and Pictures: Semiotics of Visual Language

by Meyer Schapiro

Buy the book: Meyer Schapiro. Words, Script, and Pictures: Semiotics of Visual Language

Release Date: October, 1996

Edition: Hardcover

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Buy the book: Meyer Schapiro. Words, Script, and Pictures: Semiotics of Visual Language


Words, Script, and Pictures: Semiotics of Visual Language

Unaware that Meyer Schapiro is considered to have been one of America's greatest art historians, I wasn't prepared by the title of his book for an historical account of visual language going back to the 10th century. Although initially feeling somewhat disappointed that this wasn't a more "contemporary" approach to the subject, by the middle of the first essay I was engaged by Schapiro's rich narrative on the relatively narrow subject--Exodus 17:9-13: how artists chose to illustrate not only the text, but how the illustrations reflected the culture in which those texts were considered. I found the second essay to be even better as it covered a longer period in exploring how artists have incorporated text within their illustrations, and how the rendering itself exemplified a period. These two essays aren't easy reading, but if you're willing to invest some mental energy, Schapiro documents a rich tradition of how pictures have been used not only to illustrate text, but to create meanings beyond the text. This historical perspective informs a growing interest in visual language and communication.

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