Modern Word and Image

Modern Word and Image
10 records
Artists in the West dealt in various ways with the alienation caused by the industrial revolution and horrors of World War I, including challenging the limits of human aesthetic experience by rebelling against traditionalism of art in any form. In the early 1920s, journals and magazines, as well as some Japanese artists who had studied in Paris or Berlin, introduced the ideas of Dada and Surrealism in Japan, which by obliteration of meaning through juxtaposition of seemingly random elements was intended to bring the viewer’s consciousness to a new level.

Japan had a long tradition of intermixing words or poems with pictorial imagery. The introduction of Dada and Surrealist ideas took the mixture of word and image abruptly into the modern era. The mix of words with vaguely related images had been the traditional artist’s way of sparking cognition in the viewer. Modern artists took that concept several steps forward, matching some words with others that were unrelated, or with images that defy one to find a link. The leap of logic required to understand the correspondence between words and images is somewhat similar in experience to the fruits of Zen practice.

With these odd pairings as a spring board for Dada and Surrealist art, poets and artists mingled their work, as had the earliest Dadaists in Europe, creating poems constructed purely from images, and collages heavy with lyrical intent.

- Hollis Goodall, Curator, Japanese Art (2007)