Ekphrasis writing about art is like dancing

The ekphrasic writings of the lawyer turned bishop Asterius of Amasea fl. The inadequacy of most medieval accounts of art is mentioned above; they generally lack any specific details other than cost and the owner or donor, and hyperbolic but wholly vague praise.

In the two English-language cases where a poet was also a painter, ekphrastic poems were actually conceived as accompaniments to an actual painting or vice versa.

In recent decades, the use of the term has been limited, first, to visual description and then even more specifically to the description of a real or imagined work of visual art. More narrowly, it could designate a passage providing a short speech attributed to a mute work of visual art.

But note that Horace describes no particular painting; he refers abstractly to various aspects of the art of painting purely as a metaphor to get at the good or bad qualities a poem may exhibit.

Later in the novel, another character, Hippolite, describes the painting at much length depicting the image of Christ as one of brutal realism that lacks any beauty or sense of the divine. In the Middle Ages, ekphrasis was less often practiced, especially as regards real objects, and historians of medieval art have complained that the accounts of monastic chronicles recording now vanished art concentrate on objects made from valuable materials or with the status of relicsand rarely give more than the cost and weight of objects, and perhaps a mention of the subject matter of the iconography.

All art historians and critics agree that complete and accurate verbal descriptions of visual art are very hard to achieve, even in prose.

The use of visual description in poetry is a huge subject, and a good treatment of the topic is found in Carol T. Ekphrastic poetry flourished in the Romantic era and again among the pre-Raphaelite poets. From form to ekphrasis[ edit ] It was this epitome, this template of the ideal form, that a craftsman or later an artist would try to reconstruct in his attempt to achieve perfection in his work, that was to manifest itself in ekphrasis at a later stage.

So then Homer has imagined a work of art that could not, materially, exist. Perhaps the most effective contemporary poems dealing with visual art are those where the authors include themselves in the poem, recounting the background circumstances that led to a viewing of the painting or sculpture in question; or what memories or associations or emotions it stirs in them; or how they might wish the work to be different from what it is.

Writing About Music is Like Dancing About Architecture

A third bedness, ekphrasis writing about art is like dancing, may share the ideal form. Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, who espouses a new hedonism, dedicated to the pursuit of beauty and all pleasures of the senses.

Cervanteswho spent his youth in Italy, utilized many Renaissance frescoes and paintings in Don Quixote and many of his other works.

And then, the poet may devise conversations between figures in the painting or group sculpture and give these the quality of poetry.

Meanwhile, the compositional task is much more difficult in such cases since the text of the poem has to convey all the relevant visual information, while still qualifying as poetry.

In fact, visual notation is so extensive that critics have commented that no actual shield in the real world would be able to contain the disparate elements mentioned.

In music[ edit ] There are a number of examples of ekphrasis in music, of which the best known is probably Pictures at an Exhibitiona suite in ten movements plus a recurring, varied Promenade composed for piano by the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky inand then very popular in various arrangements for orchestra.

In the twentieth century many poets produced ekphrastic poems, and the vast majority of these concern actual, not imaginary works of art.

Notes on Ekphrasis

Since few if any of the works could be illustrated description and evocation was necessary, and the cruelty of descriptions of works disliked became a part of the style.

Through the telling of the scenes on the cloak, Apollonios relates the scenes on the cloak as virtues and morals that should be upheld by the Roman people, and that Jason should learn to live by.

More generally, a poem can add the overall resources of verbality, with descriptions developed through surprising metaphors, apt commentary cast in lines with unusual diction and crisp rhythm—perhaps even calling on the techniques of traditional prosody.

This shield represents the art of Ekphrastic poetry Homer used in his writings. The novel forms part of the magic portrait genre. Posted January 15, Ekphrasis also spelled "ecphrasis" is a direct transcription from the Greek ek, "out of," and phrasis, "speech" or "expression.

In England, Shakespeare briefly describes a group of erotic paintings in Cymbelinebut his most extended exercise is a line description of the Greek army before Troy in The Rape of Lucrece. Ekphrasis seems to have been less common in France during these periods. The result is then not merely a verbal "photocopy" of the original painting, sculpture, or photograph, but instead a grounded instance of seeing, shaped by forces outside the artwork.

A disadvantage, though, of using very great works of visual art as a subject for ekphrasis is that the comparison between the original and the poem about it may prove too unfavorable.

Notional ekphrasis[ edit ] Notional ekphrasis may describe mental processes such as dreams, thoughts and whimsies of the imagination. The Earth, Sea, Sky, Moon and the Cosmos —89 Two cities — one where a wedding and a trial are taking place, and one that is considered to be Troy, due to the battle occurring inside the city —40 A field that is being ploughed —49 The home of a King where the harvest is being reaped —60 A vineyard that is being harvested —72 A herd of cattle that is being attacked by two lions, while the Herdsman and his dogs try to scare the lions off the prize bull —86 A sheep farm —89 A scene with young men and women dancing — The mighty Ocean as it encircles the shield — The Odyssey [ edit ] Although not written as elaborately as previous examples of ekphrastic poetry, from lines — the belt of Herakles is described as having "marvelous works," [10] such as animals with piercing eyes and hogs in a grove of trees.

He is also takes up a spear given to him by Atalanta, not as an afterthought, but due to his heroic nature and the comparison between himself and Achilles. The difference in the descriptions of the two shields are easily discernible; the shield of Achilles depicts many subjects, whereas the shield made for Aeneas depicts the future that Rome will have, containing propaganda in favor of the Emperor Augustus.

Auden[5] which brings the tradition back to its start with an ironic retelling of the episode in Homer see abovewhere Thetis finds very different scenes from those she expects. In his analogy, one bedness form shares its own bedness — with all its shortcomings — with that of the ideal form, or template.

Wilde had previously experimented with employing portraits in his written work, as in The Portrait of Mr. It is the same with written words; they seem to talk to you as if they were intelligent, but if you ask them anything about what they say, from a desire to be instructed, they go on telling you just the same thing forever".

These carvings depict Biblical and classical examples of the virtue of humility: Artists began to use their own literary and artistic genre of art to work and reflect on another art to illuminate what the eye might not see in the original, to elevate it and possibly even surpass it.

A disadvantage of using family snapshots is that the original image may not embody sufficient artistry to provide the stuff of interesting commentary; nor is that image available to the reader for comparison with the text."In the Musée des Beaux Arts" by WH Auden Auden's poem is one of the most famous examples of ekphrasis: the recreation in words of a work of art.

his own beauty came on him like a revelation. Writing about music is like dancing about architecture—it’s a really stupid thing to want to do. For several years the quotation above was the earliest known cite for this famous saying.

Ten of the best: examples of ekphrasis

That is one reason the words are strongly associated with Costello. Ekphrasis or ecphrasis, from the Greek for the description of a work of art produced as a rhetorical exercise,[1] often used in the adjectival form ekphrastic, is a vivid, often dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined.

Ekphrasis. One particular kind of visual description is also the oldest type of writing about art in the West. Called ekphrasis, it was created by the Greeks. ekphrasis: the meeting of poetry and art Ekphrasis describes the process of examining one form of art through the use of another, the most common example being when a poem is set to music and becomes a song.

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” The saying metaphorically describes the difficulty of using one art form to fully describe another. Stephen Bann notes ekphrasis is "dependent first of all on the risky presumption that the visual work of art can be translated into terms of verbal discourse.

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Ekphrasis writing about art is like dancing
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