Friday, March 25, 2011


I often think about writing's ability as an art form to be as expressive, human and as profound as other art forms demand to be treated. I also ask myself a few questions regarding writer's abstraction of letter based graffiti to reach a larger audience, development both creatively and career wise versus deeper exploration of letterform and making a stand for our art form in the gallery space. But, hey, I'm not going to bore you with that.....Instead...

I found a little section from Jean-Pierre Criqui and from Roland Barthes in 1973, The Responsibility of Forms, that partially covers some ground for me...

Psychedelic (feel free to insert the word graffiti) design, which sometimes verged on a kind of cryptology, was of course dependent on establishing an identity that immediately distanced itself from prevailing social and cultural codes: the poster for an event or happening couldn't easily be deciphered by any old square, and from the outset was designed to appeal to a specific community. But, beyond this rejection of the principles of mass marketing, a new reappraisal of the modern concept of the arts and of the conventional relationship between text and image was taking shape.

Roland Barthes in his discussion of an anthropomorphic alphabet designed by Erté:

'Graphic (again, feel free to insert graffiti instead) art, if we can shake off our society's empiricist yoke, which reduces language to a simple instrument of communication, should be the major art which transcends the futile opposition of figurative and of abstract: for a letter, at one and the same time, means and means nothing, imitates nothing and yet symbolizes, dismisses both the alibi of realism and that of aestheticism.'


  1. You should check out some writing from the dada movement about how they describe the destruction/abstraction of the letter form as the ultimate example of dadaism. That was in the 1910s. If I can find it I'll post it up for you.

  2. Hey Sizer,
    Please do, I'ld like to read it.

  3. Sizer: Are you sure that was dada writing? It sounds more like Lettrism (1950's French) - which was inspired by the dadaist Tristan Tzara and would eventually morph into the Situationist movement. Plenty of reading on these movements on the net, but also check out the book Lipstick Traces by Greil Marcus. Great inspiration.