Pictures of Romance: Form Against Context in Painting and Literature
How do pictures tell stories? Why does the literary romance so often refer to paintings and other visual art objects? Beginning with these two seemingly unrelated questions, Wendy Steiner reveals an intricate exchange between the visual arts and the literary romance.
Romances violate the casual, temporal, and logical cohesiveness of realist novels, and they do so in part by depicting love as a state of suspension, a condition outside of time. Steiner argues that because Renaissance and post-Renaissance painting also represents a suspended moment of perception with "unnatural" clarity and compression of meaning, it readily serves the romance as a symbol of antirealism. Yet the atemporality of stopped-action painting was actually an attempt to achieve pictorial realism—the way things "really" look. It is this paradox that interests Steiner: to signal their departure from realism, romances evoke the symbol of "realistic" visual artwork. Steiner explores this problem through analyses of Keats, Hawthorne, Joyce, and Picasso. She then examines a return to narrative conventions in visual art in the twentieth century, in the work of Lichtenstein and Warhol, and speculates on the fate of pictorial storytelling and the romance in postmodern art. An aesthetic fantasia of sorts, this study combines theory and analysis to illuminate an unexpected interconnection between literature and the visual arts.
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aesthetic Agnes Albertian Alloway Andy Warhol artists artwork beauty Benozzo Benozzo Gozzoli Bloom canvas chapter character comicbook connection contrast creates cubism Cupid depicted Donatello's dots dream enthrallment episodes Eve of St experience eyes figure Gallery gaze genre Georges Seurat Gerty Giovanni Paolo Pannini Hawthorne Hawthorne's Hilda iconic identity imaginative interpretation Joyce Joyce's Keats Keats's Kenyon Lawrence Alloway Leo Castelli literary romance look lovers Madeline Madeline's mance Marble Faun meaning medieval modern modernist narrator Nausicaa norms object Ode to Psyche Pablo Picasso painter paradoxically perceiver perception pictorial narrative picture plot poem pop art Porphyro present Psyche rative reader realism reality Renaissance repeated subjects repetition representation representationality Roy Lichtenstein Salome Salome's scene sculpture sequence Seurat sleep sleepwatching spatial static statue story symbolic tion transcendence University Press viewer vision visual arts Vollard Suite voyeurism Warhol whole York