Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Hannah Ginsborg on Words I


Words I
Words I, detail

This is entry #53 in our 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.

Philosopher: Hannah Ginsborg, UC Berkeley

Artwork: Words I, Kit Warren*, 2013 (Acrylic on paper, 50″ x 50″)

Words: “Each sign by itself seems dead.  What gives it life?” (Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations §432).  The shimmering, undulating surface of this painting is made up of words – 18,000 of them – some arrived at by the artist’s free association, others collected from friends, relatives and studio visitors.  They are painted without spaces between them so that their meanings disappear in a mass of letters. From a distance even the letters disappear, leaving only subtle rhythms of colour and the glint of light reflecting from the complex pattern of metallic brushstrokes.  These signs have lost one kind of life and taken on another.

*Warren is Ginsborg’s sister-in-law

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