Were you aware that some of the best artwork was inspired by writings from variety of poets and authors? The team at Buzz Spector has got together and collated some of our favourites.
Artwork: Domain of Arnheim, Rene Magritte / Writings: The Domain of Arnheim Edgar Allen Poe
The American master of gloomy romanticism Edgar Allen Poe notes in his writings The Domain of Arnheim that “No such mixture of scenery exists in nature as the painter of genius may invent”. Magritte’s artwork Domain of Arnheim is his own interpretation of the perfect domain formed in the mind’s eye. Poe imagines this is his story.
Where to see it: Gelender Gallery, New York
Artwork: I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold, Charles Demuth / Writings: The Great Figure, William Carlos Williams
This artwork made with graphite, ink, oil and gold leaf on paperboard is one of eight abstract portraits of friends by Charles Demuth. The initials W.C.W. the names Bill and Carlos with an allusion to Williams’ poem The Great Figure ( in which a fire engine painted with the number 5 rumbles through a dark city); are all used to signify poet William Carlos Williams.
Where to see it: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Artwork: Mad Tea Party, Salvador Dalí / Writings: Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
For artwork to accompany Lewis Carroll’s equally hypnagogic Alice in Wonderland, Dalí’s surrealism is a perfect complement. The Mad Tea Party is part of a set of 12 heliogravures, one for each chapter of the book. The rarely seen images are beautiful, drawing you down the rabbit hole into Carroll’s enthralling (and horrifying) universe.
Where to see it: William Bennet Gallery
Artwork: Myself and My Heroes, David Hockney / Writings: I Hear It Was Charged Against Me, Walt Whitman
A youthful Hockney slouches next to two of his idols, American poet Walt Whitman and Mahatma Ghandi, in the painting Myself and My Heroes. The sentence “For the dear love of comrades” (from Whitman’s poem, I Hear It Was Charged Against Me) is inscribed above the haloed Whitman. The words, “I am 21 years old and wear glasses” are above Hockney’s self-portrait, on the other hand. The self-deprecating and funny tone is typical of Hockney. The sentiment is familiar to many new artists who may be under the pressure of expectation from those who came before them.
Where to see it: Tate Collection, London
Artwork: Ophelia, Sir John Everett Millais / Writings: Hamlet, Shakespeare
Ophelia, a character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is in this 19th-century oil paint on canvas artwork by Millais. She is singing just before drowning. Many admire Millais’ picture for its realism in landscape and is one of many depictions of the doomed damsel in distress.
Where to see it: Tate Britain, London
Artwork: Ubu Tells the Truth, William Kentridge / Writings: Ubu Roi, Alfred Jarry
Ubu Tells the Truth, a short theatrical film by William Kentridge. It combines documentary footage of South African state police charging unarmed apartheid demonstrators with pictures, moving puppets, and violent animated drawings to create a short dramatic film. The film was initially made in 1997 for the multi-media theater piece Ubu and the Truth Commission. The work is was partially based on and alludes to French writer Alfred Jarry’s proto-absurdist play Ubu Roi from 1896. It holds everyone responsible for human rights violations during the apartheid era, including institutions that fostered it, bystanders who were complicit by their inactivity, and even the viewer.
Where to see it: Tate Modern, London