Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Kaitlin Tarte

Text in Art: The Interaction between Word and Image

We live in a world saturated with word and image. The combination of text and imagery is not only extraordinarily prevalent in today’s urban environment—with branding, advertising, television, and social media being the most constant representations —but we are also seeing an increasing presence of text in contemporary art. Famous artists such as Lawrence Weiner, Jenny Holzer, Glenn Ligon, Bruce Nauman, Lorna Simpson, John Baldessari, Joseph Kosuth, and Richard Prince have all embraced the practice of incorporating language as a central element of their work. In art, the relationship between text and image is more complicated than what exists in a commercial and digital environment, specifically in the formation of meaning. Case studies including Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Your gaze hits the side of my face) (1981) and Ed Ruscha’s Pay Nothing Until April (2003) exemplify the tensions between linguistic and pictorial representation that exist within art of the postmodern era. Using semiotic analysis, I analyze how images and language function as signs to communicate meaning and consider how the use of text in art both changes the nature of the visual form and affects the construction of meaning. My exhibition catalogue is a curation of elements that visually express, illustrate and support my thesis, including my written thesis, supportive imagery, published artworks, and my own artworks that combine image and text in a manner relevant to the artists I analyze.

Sector C

Advisors: Sharka Hyland (FNAR), Tanya Jung (VLST)