Word Art: Text-Based Paintings, Prints, and Sculptures (2023)

word art examples

"Follow Your Dreams" (2010)
Banksy graffiti word art.

Untitled (1990), directed by Christopher Wool
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen,

What is word art? Definition and Properties

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The term "word art" describes a category ofpostmodern artemployed by variouscontemporary artistssince the 1950s. A simple definition of text-based art might be: “Art that contains words or phrases as the main artistic component". Text-based images containing words and phrases have appeared in a variety of different media, includingnutand sculpture,Lithographymiscreenshotas well asapplied Arts(T-shirts, mugs). It also appears in the latest forms ofcontemporary arts, such as projection mapping.

There are two basic types of "word art": (1) First, works of art that contain words or phrases because of their ideological significance, iconic status, or importance as promotional text. (This is where the word content is crucial.) An example is the phrase "I buy, therefore I am" that appears in thegraphic designVonBarbara Krueger(born in 1945). Other examples are the "Date Paintings" byEm Kawara(1932-2014); amor"Sculpturepop artistRoberto Indiana(born 1928); the art of projectionJenny Holzer(b. 1950), as "For the City" (October 2005), projected on the Fifth Avenue side of the New York Public Library in Manhattan; and the "Hope" sign designed byShepard Fairey(born 1970) for Barack Obama's presidential campaign (2008). (2) Second, when the words or phrases form the actual "artistic content" of the work. Examples are the word paintings ofcristobal lana, asapocalypse now(1988, private collection) andNo title(1990, MBBR).


Word painting and other types of text-based art first appeared as a reaction to the "high culture" style.abstract expressionist paintingpracticed by Jackson Pollock (1912-56), Mark Rothko (1903-70) and others innew york schoolearly 1950s. As a result of the ethical crisis unleashed by World War II and the Shoah (see alsoholocaust art), dieabstract expressionismThe movement has turned its back on all forms of movement.representational artand focused exclusively on pure art without any external content. Prompted by critics likeclemens greenberg(1909-94), the Abstract Expressionists focused on purely formal criteria (line, shape, color, and the two-dimensional surface of the image) and ignored (or at least tried to) figurative and emotional content.

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To show your disagreement with the direction this older man has takenabstract art, A couplepostmodern artistsasjaspis johns(b. 1930) began inserting words (or numbers) into his abstract paintings -gray numbers(1957, private collection),false start(1959, private collection),birthday(1960, MOMA, New York) andgray alphabets(1968, MOMA, New York) - to reintroduce content. Many of the letters and numbers Johns entered were stenciled images, as the stencil transforms the words into some sort of object.

By adding this "textual content", Johns explored the problem:what is art? It's just a series of totally independent and self-explanatory forms of expression (like Abstract Expressionism) animated only by a heightened awareness of the process involved (like Pollock).action painting- brilliantly captured by the photography ofHans Namut)? Or it is (as Johns suspected) the communication of an idea. If this is the case, some content must be included in the artwork in question.

After Johns came thepop art movementwith the use of mass-produced consumer images, many of which contained both words and text. However, most words and phrases in pop art do not form thisprimaryartistic part of the painting or print in question and therefore do not constitute true "word art". The text commentary on the comic painting.drowned girl(1963, MOMA, New York) byRoy Lichtenstein, for example, only supports the cartoon image, as well as text from the Campbell's Soup series of images fromAndy Warhol(1928-87). The best example of pop word art is Robert Indiana's sculpture LOVE (1970, original in the Indianapolis Museum of Art), a work full of emotional content.

With the extension ofarte conceptualThe mid-1960s and the purist ethic ofminimalism, which sought to reduce art to its essences, new and more neutral forms of textual art began to emerge. the conceptualistJosef Kosuth(b. 1945) began producing his Definition Paintings (1966-68), which consisted of photographic enlargements of dictionary definitions; The installerMel Ramsden(born 1944), one of the leading members of the Art and Language Group, presented his Guaranteed Paintings (1967-68); and Japanese-American conceptual artistEm Kawarahe created a series of "Date Paintings" (the Today series) consisting only of the date the individual painting was made. These examples of “word art” represent the pinnacle of the minimalist conceptual approach that strips art of all personal emotions and other content, reducing it to the simplest visual representation of an idea or mere information.

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In the late 1970s and early 1980s he was a conceptual artist.Barbara Kruegergot great recognitionfeminist artand photo-based images overlaid with blocks of text in primary colors to show how ideological messages filter into our daily lives through advertising and television. His best-known work remains his iconic catchphrase "I buy therefore I am(Photolithographic print on paper bag) (1990, Guggenheim Museum, New York).

In the late 1980s, the New York-trained painter and photographer learnedcristobal lana(born 1955) became famous for his word paintings (now sold for millions of dollars), which usually consist of bold black letters arranged in a geometric grid, but without all punctuation and spaces. His most famous work-apocalypse now(1988, Private Collection) - is a text-based painting based on a line ("Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids") from the Francis Ford Coppola film of the same name. This and similar compositions by Wool have a kind of schizophrenic quality: one moment they are largely formal arrangements of black blocks on a white background, the next they speak to us with nervous dread.

One of the more recent examples of text-based art from 2010 is the work ofgraffiti artVonBanksy(born 1973), titled: "Follow Your Dreams", a sentence later struck out by the superimposed word "Canceled".

Language versus form in word art

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In a way, the art of the word – whether painted, printed or sculpted – occupies a kind of no man's land between language and visual images. When abstracted from their normal surroundings in books, words and sentences become neither art nor language, but a strange hybrid. The pictorial setting, combined with the increase in size, gives a new dimension and strength to the words themselves. This is noticeable even in newspaper headlines: the longer the words, the greater their impact. At the same time, the living verbal message carried by the text remains an indestructible content that prevents the abstract work from becoming completely formalistic.

There is an important caveat to the above. The words or phrases used by the artist must be more than mere blocks of data. On Kawara may be a great conceptualist, but the text of his Today series is too minimalist to be more than a conceptual reminder of what is theoretically possible. The same can be said for Joseph Kosuth's "Definition Paintings," which are mostly cute juxtapositions. A more difficult question, posed by some of Jenny Holzer's "word art" audiences, concerns the amount of text, that is, at what point does the sheer amount of words overwhelm the art scene?

Barbara Kruger's graphic style is much more powerful and involves very personal issues of self-identification and resonance. As she herself says: "I work with images and words because they have the ability to determine who we are and who we are not." Unlike Wool, who creates a deliberate tension between form and language, Kruger's priority is language and her ideas.

Related Posts

(Video) Word 2013: Text Boxes and WordArt

¾art installation(from 1960)
More of an artistic setting than a work of art.

¾Photo(from 1960)
Photography is an established genre since the 1960s and has become a central part of postmodern visual art.

¾computer art
Probably the most influential medium in contemporary art. It is likely to make a great contribution to word-based images and graphics.


What is text-based art called? ›

Word art or text art is a form of art that includes text, forming words or phrases, as its main component; it is a combination of language and visual imagery.

What is an example of WordArt? ›

You can use WordArt to add special text effects to your document. For example, you can stretch a title, skew text, make text fit a preset shape, or apply a gradient fill. This WordArt becomes an object that you can move or position in your document to add decoration or emphasis.

What do you call a painting with words? ›

The word ekphrasis, or ecphrasis, comes from the Greek for the written description of a work of art produced as a rhetorical or literary exercise, often used in the adjectival form ekphrastic. It is a vivid, often dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined.

What artists paint with text? ›

Famous artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Lalla Essaydi, Wang Guangyi, Barbara Kruger and Mark Bradford all used text with images to convey the message and tell their artistic stories.

What are the types of text based art? ›

A simple definition of text-based art might read: "art that includes words or phrases as its primary artistic component". Text-based imagery featuring words and phrases has appeared in a variety of different media including painting and sculpture, lithography and screenprinting as well as applied art (T-shirts, mugs).

What is a type of art that makes use of words and word order? ›

Literature is the art of combining spoken or written words and their meanings into forms which have artistic and emotional appeal.

What are the 5 WordArt features? ›

WordArt is a text modifying feature in Microsoft Word, a popular word processing program. It includes effects such as shadows, outlines, colors, gradients, and 3D effects that can be added to a word or phrase. WordArt can also bend, stretch, skew, or otherwise modify the shape of the text.

How do you use WordArt styles? ›

On the Insert tab, in the Text group, click WordArt, and then click the WordArt style that you want. Enter your text. You can add a fill or effect to a shape or text box as well as the text in the WordArt.

What are the two ways to create WordArt? ›

Word Art is a fun way to make text stand out with special effects. With Word Art, you can add color, shape, and style to text for a birthday card, a presentation, or a display. To create word art, you can use an online word art generator or a computer program.

What is the literary term for painting a picture with words? ›

Basically, an ekphrasis is a literary description of art. Like other kinds of imagery, ekphrasis paints a picture with words.

What is ekphrastic art? ›

“Description” in Greek. An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.

Which artist is known for their combination of words and images in their art? ›

Words and phrases are at the centre of Ed Ruscha's work and first appear in his paintings as early as 1959. The use of words and text in twentieth century art can first be traced back to cubist painters such as Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso who added letters and words, painted and collaged, into still lifes.

Why do artists use text in their art? ›

In text-based art, formations of language become aesthetically divine images that activate prudent learning, conjure affective experience, and support diverse interpretation. Infinitely visual as it is perceptual, text-based art aptly resonates with sizeable audiences, among diverse platforms, in profuse ways.

Why do artists use words in their art? ›

Using language, artists transform a basic communication tool—the alphabet—into unique provocations. Language is also particularly malleable, cost-free, and renewable. “There's a million different ways artists can use it,” said Jewish Museum curator Kelly Taxter.

What are the 4 main categories of art styles? ›

In this website, we'll explore four of the main styles that I work in: photorealism, abstract, whimsical, and composite (combined styles). In time, I will add more information about other artistic styles, but for now we'll focus on the four styles that I am most familiar with, in both theory and practice.

What are the four 4 types of text? ›

The main types of text types are narrative, descriptive, directing, and argumentative.

What are the 3 types of art forms? ›

In the Western tradition, the three classical branches of visual art are painting, sculpture, and architecture. Theatre, dance, and other performing arts, as well as literature, music, film and other media such as interactive media, are included in a broader definition of the arts.

What is it called when you make an image with words? ›

Word art may also refer to a text modifying tool, used to transform single words or phrases into a word art picture, like this: In this article, we'll be discussing word art in the form of word clouds.

What do you call an art of utilizing words and written language? ›

Literature, as an art form, can also include works in various non-fiction genres, such as biography, diaries, memoir, letters, and essays. Within its broad definition, literature includes non-fictional books, articles or other printed information on a particular subject.

What is a group of works of art made up of words most are written but some are passed on by word of mouth? ›

Literature is a group of works of art made up of words. Most are written, but some are passed on by word of mouth. Literature usually means a work of poetry, theatre or narrative. There are many different kinds of literature, such as poetry, plays, or novels.

How many styles are available in WordArt? ›

The WordArt gallery provides 30 styles to choose from. To display the WordArt gallery, click on the Insert tab and then click on WordArt in the Text group. The styles in the WordArt gallery are based on the range of available text effects in Word.

What is the difference between WordArt and text box? ›

All three kinds of text can have various styles and formatting applied; with a text box, you can also edit the text box itself (for example by adding a border and/or background), while WordArt allows you to apply more sophisticated styles and effects to your text (compared to plain text).

What is smart art in Word? ›

SmartArt refers to the range of graphics available in Word that you can use to create diagrams, such as flow charts, process charts, organisation charts, and the like. Select a SmartArt graphic from the gallery and then customise it to suit your needs.

How do you make shapes in WordArt? ›

Go to Shape Format or Drawing Tools Format > Text Effects. Select Transform, and then choose the effect you want. If you don't see Transform at the bottom of the menu, make sure you've selected Text Effects.

How do I get classic WordArt? ›

doc file. Now have a look at Insert | Text | WordArt. All the old Gallery choices appear. Choose a design that's nearest what you want, type in some text (you can change it later).

Does WordArt still exist? ›

Or use the better WordArt that's still available in modern Microsoft Word.

What are the three main options available to customize a WordArt format? ›

Customize your WordArt

Select Text Fill, Text Outline, or Text Effects and choose an option.

Is WordArt free to use? ›

Standard Quality (SQ) images are free for personal non-commercial use.

Which word is used to describe a drawing painting or sculpture of a person? ›

portrait Add to list Share. A portrait is a portrayal of a person, usually showing the person's face (but not always). A portrait can be a painting, a photograph, an ink drawing, a sculpture — or even a description in words or in a film. Portrait is a term often used when talking about artwork.

What is a print of a painting called? ›

Occasionally, when we receive an oil painting into the studio, the medium is revealed to be different from what our client believed it to be. This case of mistaken identity is down to oil paintings actually being prints – more commonly known as oleographs.

What are works of art called? ›

A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creation of aesthetic value.

What is paradox art? ›

It would seem that paradox inspires artists to expand their imaginations, derive abstract concepts, and dream bigger. Art is paradoxical by nature. It both reflects the past and creates the future. It both orders and dis-integrates, and somehow, through the course of both, defies entropy.

What is juxtaposition art? ›

In the world of art, we see juxtaposition used to refer to works composed various unrelated elements or fragments placed side-by-side, or atop one another to create an interesting effect of comparison or contrast.

What is the meaning of anamorphic art? ›

anamorphosis, in the visual arts, an ingenious perspective technique that gives a distorted image of the subject represented in a picture when seen from the usual viewpoint but so executed that if viewed from a particular angle, or reflected in a curved mirror, the distortion disappears and the image in the picture ...

What is mixed art called? ›

In visual art, mixed media describes artwork in which more than one medium or material has been employed. Assemblages, collages, and sculpture are three common examples of art using different media. Materials used to create mixed media art include, but are not limited to, paint, cloth, paper, wood and found objects.

What is it called when the artist creates the image and prints them too? ›

Lithographic reproduction is a process that can be used to recreate any art piece into a print. It uses photographic lithography to capture the desired image onto the lithographic plate. They will then use a color separation method to determine where specific ink colors will go.

What kind of art is combining two different arts? ›

The use of mixed media began around 1912 with the cubist collages and constructions of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and has become widespread as artists developed increasingly open attitudes to the media of art. Essentially art can be made of anything or any combination of things.

What do you call art made with text? ›

Word art or text art is a form of art that includes text, forming words or phrases, as its main component; it is a combination of language and visual imagery.

What is the text art called? ›

Alternatively called ANSI art, text art, or word art, ASCII art is the forming pictures or art out of the characters available in the ASCII chart. These pictures were popular before the Internet and broadband when users connected through a BBS.

What do you call art with a hidden message? ›

Steganography (/ˌstɛɡəˈnɒɡrəfi/ ( listen) STEG-ə-NOG-rə-fee) is the practice of representing information within another message or physical object, in such a manner that the presence of the information is not evident to human inspection.

What artist use text in art? ›

Famous artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Lalla Essaydi, Wang Guangyi, Barbara Kruger and Mark Bradford all used text with images to convey the message and tell their artistic stories.

What is the history of text based art? ›

In the mid-1960s, text-based art as we know it began to emerge as Conceptual art. These works often took linguistic form and raised problems of definition and analysis. This movement was as much about theory as art—the artworks were not just objects to look at, but also ideas to think about.

What is a text based drawing? ›

Text Based Drawings: A Creative Way to Get Students to Use Evidence from the Text. Asking students to cite evidence for every single question they answer when reading and responding to a text might be good practice and ensure that they are reading closely, but it also becomes repetitive.

What artists focus on text? ›

Artists CB Hoyo, David Shrigley, Juan Uribe, and Wayne White chose to send their messages through text-based art. Here's what they have to say about the contemporary art market.

What does the WordArt symbolize? ›

Art can be thought of as a symbol of what it means to be human, manifested in physical form for others to see and interpret. It can serve as a symbol for something that is tangible, or for a thought, an emotion, a feeling, or a concept.

What is word painting and why is it important? ›

Musical depiction of words in text. Using the device of word painting, the music tries to imitate the emotion, action, or natural sounds as described in the text. For example, if the text describes a sad event, the music might be in a minor key. Conversely, if the text is joyful, the music may be set in a major key.

What is text based design? ›

Think of Disney, Harry Potter, or Cadbury and you'll imagine words written in unusual fonts. This is how text-based logos work. They express the character of a brand through typography, form, and color. This type of identity works for brand recognition and therefore is particularly effective when starting a business.

What is Exhibition text called? ›

The Exhibition Description acts like the entry text panel in a bricks and mortar exhibition space. It is the first piece of text visitors will see and read before they enter your exhibition and it should explain the themes, ideas, concepts and inspiration behind your exhibition.

What is a text based graphic? ›

Text-based semigraphics or pseudographics is a primitive method used in early text mode video hardware to emulate raster graphics without having to implement the logic for such a display mode.

What is an example of text based? ›

"Text-based" refers to materials with static or fixed text and images, such as textbooks and supplemental text materials. Both print and digital materials can be text-based. For example, an electronic textbook that replicates a standard print textbook is considered a text-based material.

What are text based formats? ›

Text based also refers to documents that contain only text, such as program source code, batch and shell scripts as well as HTML and XML files. Text-based documents are readable in any text editor and most word processors.

What are examples of text based approach? ›

Linking spoken and written texts to the cultural context of their use. Designing units of work that focus on developing skills in relation to whole texts. Providing students with guided practice as they develop language skills for meaningful communication through whole texts.

What is the difference between text-based and visual based? ›

Visual-based programming languages are ones that allow you to manipulate visual elements — e.g. drag and drop blocks — to make a program, as opposed to text-based programming languages, which have you write lines and lines of code to make a program.

What are the design principles for text-based? ›

Design principles and elements – the principles in designing text elements are Emphasis, Appropriateness, Proximity, Alignment, Organization, Repetition and Contrast.

What is a text style and why would it be used? ›

A style is a predefined combination of font style, color, and size that can be applied to any text in your document. Styles can help your documents achieve a more professional look and feel. You can also use styles to quickly change several things in your document at the same time.

How do you label art prints? ›

The standard is to sign the print at the bottom right hand corner below the impression, the edition number on the bottom left hand corner and the title, if any, in the center.

What are the two types of exhibition? ›

Commercial exhibitions are intended to attract buyers and sell the displayed items while non-commercial exhibitions are simply arranged for appreciation of talents and skills. Exhibitions can be categorized further into museums, art exhibitions, trade exhibitions and consumer exhibitions.

What is gallery writing? ›

A writing gallery (walk) allows participants to view students' writing and make constructive, specific, and helpful comments about the writing. The culture of a gallery walk experience is non-evaluative in nature. It is.

What are examples of text and graphic features? ›

These include the table of contents, index, glossary, headings, bold words, sidebars, pictures and captions, and labeled diagrams. These features can be helpful if they are concise, related to the content, and clear, or they can be harmful if they are poorly organized, only loosely related to the content, or too wordy.


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