11/11/2013 Edgar Gomes Prof. Brooks, Art History and Appreciation II Art Paper # 2: Iconology and Semiotics Comparison We as humans all have an item or two that has been passed down or inherited. Whether it is from a family member or a close friend, we have received something that has a deep meaning and/or tells a story about someone or something that extremely relates to one’s self. The meaning the original object or story holder has, does not mean it is understood by others who hold the same story or object.
As a 2 years old kid, I received a tiny sphere’ shaped black stone pendant, with white polka ots and gold plates on the north and south points. As I got older and was explained what it meant to our culture, I started understanding and appreciating it as I grew older. The sphere is supposed to protect the person who receives it from all evil and bad luck. It is usually given to the children from the mother or a close family member. Also the purpose and meaning is defeated if someone gives their selves the sphere.
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To other cultures, or people I am sure the sphere is considered Just a gifted sphere from someone with nothing else but an object and over seen as such an intangible meaning and beliefs. In the art world this situation is consider iconology and/or semiotics. During this paper I will be discussing how I think iconology and semiotics are very similar. In our everyday lives we go through things we don’t know the meanings of or how it came about. Iconology is a great deal of this concept. Iconology is the study of visual imagery and its symbolism and interpretation, especially in art, social and political terms.
This term was given by the Erwin Panofsky (1892 – 1968) when he published Studies in Iconology during 1939. In Panofskys study of art objects and images there are 3 points. The 1st level is as simple as identification. For example, if I showed you a picture of a man with armor on his body and sword in his hand, you are going to automatically identify the man as a warrior without anyone telling you that. The 2nd point is connecting artistic patterns with concepts, themes or conventional meaning. This step is linking what you know about the artist patterns based on theme and concepts.
His 3rd point is probably best explained when quoted, “It is apprehended by ascertaining those underlying principles which reveal the basic attitude of a nation, a period, class, a religious or hilosophical persuasion – qualified by one personality and condensed into one work”l . In other words Panofsky is saying that we have to use our own interpretation from common knowledge of the art product in order to comprehend it. If I asked anyone to think of and draw an old school cowboy, I would most likely have the same description of one as they would.
He would have mulatto/dark skin, bow and arrows, fit/muscular body and a gentleman on a horse. However, if I asked for someone to think of a modern cowboy, they would think of the latest Caucasian, wild west, big ough hands, horse riding, with a gun on the waist or ankle holster and who’s an asshole to most people. I am sure these are the image that comes to most people’s mind who thinks of those two different cowboys. This here to me is a great example cowboys thru pictures, art, movies and stories.
The items/obJects and descriptions of the cowboys are icons to us and how we relate to who they are and what period of time it is. Semiotics is the study of symbols, signs and interpretation. In other words, it is the observation and use of signs and symbols. In the art worlds the nterpretation is all about the audience/viewer. Whatever it is they intake and digests about the art work, symbol or signs is what matters in this case. Semiotics happens to use in an everyday life basis and some of us don’t even know or care for.
Just as iconology, it has to do a lot with cultural, religion, nation, and period in time. All those points that connect iconology and semiotics are Just plain knowledge and experience in my opinion. With both having very strong similarities as one basically makes the other. Also it wouldn’t be far fetching if someone can said they basically make each ther. I would not disagree with someone that says that because I find that totally acceptable. With iconology comes a symbol and representation of what you know and can identify with a person or a thing.
That meaning comes from the person’s logic, knowledge, culture, nation and period in time. In my opinion, the only little difference from the two mythology is where the person has no info or knowledge personally or given of the art work. For example, in 1943, Pablo Picasso described this to photographer George Brassal about his Bull’s Headii artwork, “Guess how I made the bull’s head? One day, in a pile of objects all Jumbled up together, I found an old bicycle seat right next to a rusty set of handlebars. In a flash, they Joined together in my head.
The idea of the Bull’s Head came to me before I had a chance to think. All I did was weld them together… [but] if you were only to see the bull’s head and not the bicycle seat and handlebars that form it, the sculpture would lose some of its impact. “2 This is why I believe that both mythologies are so similar and feed off one another. In iconology terms this object could be a symbol that people have seen most nd relate the most from before throughout their life time, and it would most likely and up signifying a bicycle which most people have seen and relate to, appose to a bull.
At the same time, someone can get to that same conclusion using Semiotics because if all one sees visually is what they had experienced in the past, which in this case I am sure most people have seen and dealt with a bicycle more than a bull’s head. So naturally those people are going to relate to the sculpture as a bicycle. Experience and knowledge has a lot to do with these two mythologies and how one reacts visual, emotionally, and mentally. Another example I can give about how these two are very similar but yet a bit different is on the title.
Without the title of the art work, there is no telling what a person’s idea of the sculpture would be. However, given the title, which would affect the iconic knowledge of a person, people would surely have the idea that the sculpture is a bull’s head. That little difference of where someone or something tells you what something means can be the difference in how you intake something solely based on your own opinion, emotion, or knowledge. To conclude, iconology and semiotics have extreme similarities but however do have a mall difference in my opinion.
They actually even collaborate with each other because seeing and understanding something means you need the base knowledge of something. Something involving iconology is when an icon or object has been given to you over time with other art work knowledge, which is sometimes slightly perspective of the art work can be different since is Just based on the person’s own emotion, knowledge, experience and time. As the example that I gave earlier about the Bull’s Head, The mythologies are so similar that they basically lead to the same utlook and view on how one might end up getting the same perspective of the art work.
However, they are still a tiny different and a small change to the detail as the title being given. Also knowing that Picasso was a Spaniard, and having the very common knowledge that it is a yearly tradition that they have the running of the bulls in Spain, can make the difference within the two mythologies. i Cape Verdean spirit sphere/ball pendant ii Penrose, Roland (1981). Picasso: His Life and Work, Third edition. University of californta press. p. 345. ISBN 0-520-04207-7.