PRINT March 1974

Artists as Writers, Part One: Inside Information

JACKSON POLLOCK WROTE OF HIS painting She-Wolf, 1943, that it “came into existence because I had to paint it. Any attempt on my part to say something about it, to attempt an explanation of the inexplicable could only destroy it.”1 The idea that the two systems of signs, one visual and one literary, are antithetical is not generally shared, however, to judge from the copious writings by artists that actually exist.2 To consider the genre, it is useful to assume a principle of coexpressibility, in which verbal and visual forms can be translated into one another with at least a partial fit. Unless this is done, we are not in a position to understand the relation of art and theory since the later 19th century, because from that time the literature of art has been dominated by artists, though the fact has not been sufficiently recognized.

It is worth noting that the use of artists’ statements

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