Opening December 2, MMoCA is pleased to present Art/Word/Image, an exploration of artists enlisting text as a component of their work.
In 1912, when Picasso and Braque glued newspaper clippings onto their cubist still-lifes they unwittingly ushered in a new era of wordplay into the history of modern art. The written word was abstracted from the structure of language and introduced as a graphic, artistic element. From the fragmented “word salads” of the Dadaists to the speech balloons of mid-century Pop art, artists have frequently used language, often ironic or enigmatic, to enhance the resonance of their work. In his screenprint Sin (1970), Ed Ruscha transforms the word into a mountainous object that looms over a trompe l’oeil rendering of an olive. According to Ruscha, “words are pattern-like, and in their horizontality they answer my investigation into landscape. They’re almost not words—they are objects that become words.” Art/Word/Image examines the use of language in art through selections from the permanent collection including works by Robert Cottingham, Bruce Nauman, Fred Stonehouse, and John Wilde.