Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Lindisfarne Gospels, fol. 29 (Cotton MS, Nero D.IV)
Lindisfarne Gospels, fol. 29 (Cotton MS, Nero D.IV)
OOF
OOF

Where do we draw the line between word and image?

There are many reasons for putting words in art and many reasons for adorning words. Sometimes, the integration of word and art is so complete that it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Works like the Lindisfarne Gospels and Ed Ruscha’s Oof make us consider whether there is a line between image and text at all. Indeed, they make us question why we make the distinction in the first place.

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Questions to Consider

  • Discuss the concept of “word as art” as it relates to each of these works.
  • The Lindisfarne Gospels focuses on words in a sacred context. In contrast, Ruscha’s OOF was almost irreverent within the artistic tradition at the time of its making. What different attitudes toward art and the word went into creating each of these pieces? What do you think each artist was trying to achieve?
  • The focus of the Lindisfarne Gospels page is the Greek name for Christ, while Ruscha’s work focuses on a word that is onomatopoeic. Do you think that the artists anticipated a literate audience for their works? How do you think the intended audience might have influenced the choice of language or the degree of the word’s legibility in each case?