The Relationship Between Visual Art & Literature

Literature in itself is an art form. Carefully chosen words paint visuals upon a page for the theater of the mind. This has often inspired other, more visually oriented artists to create tangible objects based on these mental images. Not only can this create a more fully realized piece of art, it also allows these artists to produce content based on their own interpretations. This creative wealth of material has continued to inspire modern filmmakers and artists who now have technology to help bring these pages to life.

Greek Tragedy

Literature married with the visual arts in ancient Greece, where writers could see their words brought to life courtesy of Greek tragedies performed at least as far back as the 6th century B.C. Not everyone was pleased by this particular art form. The philosopher Plato considered life an imitation of true reality, and likewise derided art as an imitation of imitation, an emotional manipulation that took focus from reason. This view was, ironically, despite his own affinity for storytelling. Aristotle responded to this by writing "Poetics," a book that would inevitably become a virtual "bible" for many subsequent writers who sought to bring their words to life, either on the page or the stage.

The Renaissance

The Bible is full of interesting, flawed characters and dynamic universal themes, most notably the battle of good versus evil. It has inspired visual arts for centuries, with a significant influence on art created during the Renaissance. This era began in 14th century Italy and spanned hundreds of years. This "rebirth" explored themes based on antiquity, most notably from the Bible. The painting and sculptures of artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo have endured as prized interpretations of a beloved text.

Literature as Visual Art

Because literature is an art itself, various genres of literature are written specifically for visual purposes. This was true in ancient Greece, but also for contemporary plays depicting small vignettes of life that could be performed on a small stage in limited acts. Writers such as Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Neil Simon perfected their art with the intention of it serving primarily as a blueprint. This collaborative effort requires actors, directors and set designers to bring written words to life.

Moving Pictures

As technology progressed, filmmakers were able to take the written word up a notch with more fully realized visuals, including movement, sound and even special effects. One form of literary art taken to the movies may be an original screenplay such as "Citizen Kane," "Rocky" or "Annie Hall." Some original screenplays, such as "Star Wars," spawned an entire generation of books based on the world and characters created by George Lucas. Other classic movies were adapted from existing pieces of beloved literature, with notable examples being "Gone With Wind," "The Wizard of Oz," "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Lord of the Rings."

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