Metaphor and Painting

  • Richard Wollheim


Nowadays the term ‘metaphor’ enjoys a considerable popularity in the criticism of the contemporary visual arts. In part the explanation may lie in the fact that, since the decline of figuration, or at any rate the break-up of its monopoly, there has developed the unarticulated feeling that metaphor may be the route along which the visual arts can reclaim some of the meaning that this process has lost them. However this feeling — if I am right in positing it — has not led to what one might expect: that is, a systematic attempt to work out what metaphor might be in the field of the visual arts. In this essay I set out to make good this deficiency, particularly for painting. In doing so, I shall draw upon certain ideas developed in Painting as an Art. 1


Great Painter Linguistic Meaning Metaphorical Meaning Pictorial Meaning Token Picture 
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  1. Davidson, Donald: 1978, ‘What Metaphors Mean’, Critical Inquiry 5 (1); reprinted in Sheldon Sacks (ed.), On Metaphor, Chicago University Press, Chicago, Illinois, (1979), pp. 29–45, also in Donald Davidson, Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation, Oxford University Press, Oxford (1984), pp. 245–264.Google Scholar
  2. Wollheim, Richard: 1986, Painting as an Art: The Andrew W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts 1984, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey; also published in 1987, Thames & Hudson, London.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

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  • Richard Wollheim

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