The book on visual metaphor that was the result as well as impetus for most of the entries here so far is coming out soon! A Philosophy of Visual Metaphor in Contemporary Art, by Mark Staff Brandl.
About the book:
Metaphor, which allows us to talk about things by comparing them to other things, is one of the most ubiquitous and adaptable features of language and thought. It allows us to clarify meaning, yet also evaluate and transform the ways we think, create and act.
While we are alert to metaphor in spoken or written texts, it has, within the visual arts, been critically overlooked. Taking into consideration how metaphors are inventively embodied in the formal, technical, and stylistic aspects of visual artworks, Mark Staff Brandl shows how extensively artists rely on creative metaphor within their work. Exploring the work of a broad variety of artists—including Dawoud Bey, Dan Ramirez, Gaëlle Villedary, Raoul Deal, Sonya Clark, Titus Kaphar, Charles Boetschi, and more—he argues that metaphors are the foundation of visual thought, are chiefly determined by bodily and environmental experiences, and are embodied in artistic form. Visual artistic creation is philosophical thought. By grounding these arguments in the work of philosophers and cultural theorists, including Noël Carroll, Hans Georg Gadamer, and George Lakoff, Brandl shows how important metaphor is to understanding contemporary art.
A Philosophy of Visual Metaphor in Contemporary Art takes a neglected feature of the visual arts and shows us what a vital role it plays within them. Bridging theory and practice, and drawing upon a capacious array of examples, this book is essential reading for art historians and practitioners, as well as analytic philosophers working in aesthetics and meaning.
Author short bio:
Mark Staff Brandl is an artist and art historian active internationally since 1980, with a PhD from the University of Zurich. He is Associate Professor of Art History Emeritus at the Art Academy of Liechtenstein and Higher Professional College for Art in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He has won various awards, had numerous publications, and his shows include galleries and museums in the US, Switzerland, the UK, Germany, Italy, Egypt, and the Caribbean.
Combining astute insights from cognitive linguistics, analytical philosophy, and cultural history, Brandl sets out his own compelling theory of central visual metaphor, bringing it to bear on contemporary art, but taking it far beyond art history, laying the ground for further multimodal and cross-disciplinary explorations.
DANIEL AMMANN, LECTURER IN MEDIA EDUCATION, ZURICH UNIVERSITY OF TEACHER EDUCATION, SWITZERLAND
The humanities are so full of orthodoxies these days, which police accepted ways of talking about aesthetics, language, philosophy, contemporary art, and many other fields. Theory here is serious, but playful and unpredictable. From Van Gogh’s brushstrokes Brandl retrieves the foundational metaphor ‘LIFE IS FIRE’; from an abstract painting he deduces the metaphor ‘LIFE IS A JOURNEY.’ It’s so refreshing to see these ecstatic-looking italicized phrases in a book of analytic philosophy! If you’re an artist, and you’re wondering how to think about the meaning you’re creating, this book is a great choice.
JAMES ELKINS, DEPARTMENT OF ART HISTORY, THEORY, AND CRITICISM, SCHOOL OF THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, USA
Mark Staff Brandl, artist, educator, theorist, takes us by the hand and leads us to an inspiring journey through the realm of art. This book is not about art theory—it is art theory in the making. It opens our eyes and our minds.
PHILIP URSPRUNG, PROFESSOR OF THE HISTORY OF ART AND ARCHITECTURE, ETH ZURICH, SWITZERLAND