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The Word is Art (Paperback)


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A global overview of how contemporary artists incorporate text and the written word into work that speaks to someof the most pressing issues of the 21st century

Digital communication has seen the word as text permeate life in ways that the poets and artists of yesterday could never have imagined. Presenting a history of word- and book-based art, and examining major areas where the word has dominated artistic practice, this book takes us on a fascinating and richly illustrated global tour of diverse contemporary art forms.

What value can text hold in the sphere of visual art? How is such text different from poetry? Can the poetic itself be visual art, or is text in this context consigned to the realms of gimmick and catchphrase? Looking at the work of a broad range of artists including Bruce Nauman, Julien Breton, Jeremy Deller, Tracey Emin, Jenny Holzer, Shirin Neshat and many more, The Word is Art examines each of these questions, contending above all that in the digital age, words have become more important than ever.

With the advent of texting and social media, many predicted the debasement of language, and some have pointed to evidence of this in our so-called ‘post-truth’ culture. Michael Petry demonstrates that, on the contrary, words remain critical, powerful and central to art practice.

Table of Contents

Introduction • 1. Installed Words • 2. Three-Dimensional Words • 3. Light • 4. New Media • 5. The Conceptual Word • 6. Social Comment • 7. The Drawn Word • 8. Books • Further Reading