Reading Pictures: Text and Image in Contemporary Art

Chris Drury
British, b. 1948
Poison Pie, 2000
An Amanita Muscaria spore print on black card with radiating lines of handwritten text in white ink listing all the poisonous fungi and their effect on the body.
Photo engraving
Dr. and Mrs. E. William Ewers Gift for Fine Arts Fund Purchase
Courtesy the artist

Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery
August 25, 2011–September 30, 2011

Reading Pictures examines the intersection of text and image in contemporary art through more than fifty examples drawn from the Fine Arts Gallery’s collections. While some works are associated with the modern tradition of concrete poetry, many use text as a means to linguistically “illustrate” accompanying images, or vice versa. Still others employ text either alone or in conjunction with images in order to trigger associations, thoughts, and memories within the viewer. Featured artists, some in collaboration with writers or in response to existing text, include Robert Barry, Harmen Brethouwer, John Cage with Calvin Sumsion, Enrique Chagoya, Thomas A. Clark, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Richard Devereux, Lesley Dill with Emily Dickinson, Jim Dine with Frank O’Hara, Chris Drury, Ian Hamilton Finlay with Janet Boulton and Cornelia Wieg, Hamish Fulton, Douglas Gordon, Barbara Kruger, Les Levine, Sol Lewitt with Paul Celan, Thomas Locher, Richard Long, Jill Mathis, Deborah Muirhead, Michael Peel, Alyson Shotz, Jack Werner Stauffacher with Albert Camus, Antoni Tàpies, Kees Verbeek, Hans Waanders, and Lawrence Weiner.

Reading Pictures is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director. Student research assistant, Ellington Griffin (B.A., Vanderbilt 2011). Reading Pictures is presented in conjunction with The Book as Art: Beautiful Books, organized by the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries.