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Title: Visual metaphor and the ironic glance : the interaction between artist and viewer.
Author: Dawe, Wendy.
Awarding Body: City of Birmingham Polytechnic
Current Institution: Birmingham City University
Date of Award: 1991
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This study is an investigation into the communicative power of visual metaphor and the ways in which it is used by artists. A wide range of works of art are used to exemplify the theories presented. The first part of the thesis is a discussion of whether the term 'metaphor' can be used to describe some of the transformations which take place in visual art. It is shown that works of visual art produce similar kinds of displacement of meaning as those created in verbal metaphor. An idea for a theory of visual metaphor is put forward. Some applications of this theory to specific works of art are discussed. The 'ironic glance' which is characteristic of the artist and often of the viewer is identified and explained. Historical ideas of irony are placed in context with modern concepts. It is postulated that all creativity requires the artist to exercise irony in his or her initial view of the world; in making; and in the implicit assumption of a `putative audience'. A detailed discussion of examples of visual art selected predominantly from 1800 to the present shows that metaphorical expression takes place in many kinds of visual art, from the allegorical to the apparently abstract. A discussion of the interaction between artist and viewer follows. The concept of `distance' in the making and viewing of artworks is considered, particularly in connection with the idea of an ironic stance. The idea of the 'ironic glance' incorporates within it a sense of distance in all aspects of making and looking at art. The different ways in which artists communicate metaphorically are discussed. The importance of 'received' knowledge, especially in connection with the 'formal' elements of artworks and the individual viewer's 'mental store'. is considered. The way in which a viewer approaches art is explored' by showing the way that metaphor directs thought in a way which paradoxically both illuminates understanding and limits our view. The viewer's `mental store' allows him or her to understand some artworks and through this understanding approach other works. It is suggested that the directive nature of metaphor means that the artist, either consciously or subconsciously, has in mind a putative audience. Throughout, the thesis is supported by a broad range of reference. Similar ideas expressed by philosophers, critics, theorists of language, poets and artists are drawn together to support the formulation of new ideas linking metaphorical expression, irony and the relationship of an artist to the putative viewer.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Art theory and criticism Art Psychology Sociology Human services