Monday, July 07, 2008

Petra, 13 April 1858

In his essay 'Painters as Writers' Stephen Spender wrote:

'The meeting place of words and painting is those drawings in which painters have scribbled the names of colours as an aide-mémoire. The word "grey" written against olive trees by van Gogh or Cotman obviously means something different to the artist from that which it suggests to the reader. When one looks at a sketch and sees a written word, there is the suggestion of a leap from the word to the miracle of the paint, and this is itself an effect of poetry, which Apollinaire tried to exploit when he arranged the words of a poem in the form of sketches. Moreover, the painters who write most on their sketches themselves seem to be extremely open to the suggestion of words, an extreme example being the painter and humorous poet Edward Lear, who did many such sketches.'

The Edward Lear example below was the best I could find with a quick search - other sketches of his have a lot more words on them. I'm tempted to suggest that Lear's paintings in this vein belong to a rarely noticed subgenre of 'annotated landscapes', along with photographs like Roni Horn's Still Water, Chinese landscape paintings like Mount Pan, and even, at a stretch, geographical illustrations like those of Geoffrey Hutchings.

Edward Lear, Petra 13 April 1858


Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew
Thought you might like this by the artist Stephen Duncalf, from the collaborative publication 'Consequences' (Martin Fidler, Les Coleman, Steve Wheatley, Stephen Duncalf, John Digby), London 1980.
The annotations are perhaps more to with weather than colour...

best, Colin

Plinius said...

Thanks Colin. This definitely fits into the genre!