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This systematic study explores the way in which words have encroached on the
visual arts from the late 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century.
Simon Morley identifies the key ways in which artists and movements of the
modern and contemporary era used words - sometimes to compete with images,
sometimes to supplant them, often to engender new kinds of relationship or new
forms, or to break down old distinctions so that the seen and the said were no
longer quite so different. The book is chronologically arranged, beginning with
Cubist collages and going on to deal with Dada nonsense words, Surrealist
painting-poems, Constructivist typographies, oriental calligraphy and post-war
gestural painting, Pop's celebration of the brand name, the wholesale
transformation of art modelled on nature into art modelled on the city's forest
of manmade signs, feminist challenges to the dominance of a male-centred
language, the inscription in art of voices from outside the Western mainstream,
and digital hypertext.