Paintings as “Visual Poetry”: Diagrammatic Iconicity in the Art of Juan Miró

  • Hsin-yen Chen
  • I-wen Su Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Taiwan University No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei 10617, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Abstract

Conceptual Metaphor Theory (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980) and work on multimodal metaphors (Forceville, 2006) has opened up a new approach to the study of language and other modalities. However, relatively few cognitive linguistic investigations of visual art have been performed. We analyzed paintings done by Spanish Surrealist Juan Miró (1893-1983), focusing on diagrammatic iconicity, i.e. how his pictorial elements are arranged structurally in ways that correspond to their meaning. In particular, we examined the artist’s paintings between 1940 and 1970, based on the model advanced by Hiraga (2005). Our results show that iconic mappings like SIMILARITY IN MEANING IS SIMILARITY IN FORM, MORE CONTENT IS MORE FORM, and SEMANTIC RELEVANCE IS CLOSENESS, function as cognitive principles prevalent in these paintings. The current study therefore supports the proposal that diagrammatic iconicity operates across different semiotic systems, and at the same time contributes to the description and explanation of artistic practices involving language and painting.

Author Biographies

Hsin-yen Chen
Hsin-yen Chen holds a MA in Linguistics from National Taiwan University, and a BFA in Painting from Taipei National University of the Arts. She currently works as an AI knowledge engineer at a company in Taipei.
I-wen Su, Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Taiwan University No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei 10617, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
I-wen Su is Professor at Graduate Institute of Linguistics at National Taiwan University. Her areas of specialization include cognitive linguistics, cognitive pragmatics, discourse analysis as well as stylistics and rhetoric. She has engaged in interdisciplinary collaboration and worked on multimodality in recent years, trying to combine possible insights from linguistics.
Published
2016-11-24
Section
Articles