Word Art

Jul 23, 2013 7:01PM

Throughout history, artists like Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and Kiki Smith have been intrigued by literary worlds near and far. This trio has turned the written word into a 3D objet d’art that compels us to look closer.

Pablo Picasso on Miguel de Cervantes

From the Guardian’s “100 Best Books of All Time” list to gallery walls, Don Quixote has been influencing writers and artists alike since was first published in 1605. Pablo Picasso was inspired by the absurdist nature of this classic tale, dedicating multiple sketches to the fictional characters in Miguel de Cervantes’ book.

(Image: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (M. 207; B. 688)). 

Auguste Rodin on Dante Aligheri

Before he was inspired to create The Thinker, Auguste Rodin was influenced by Dante Aligheri’s Divine Comedy. In the late 1800s, the French sculptor worked on The Gates of Hell, a massive undertaking that brought the terror of the Inferno into a grand, physical form. The epic nature of the 20-foot, 10-¾ inch Gates serve as an homage to the epic poem and a reminder of our mortality. In a sad twist of fate, the artist died in 1917, without ever having seen the work displayed.


Kiki Smith on Charles Perrault

Is it any wonder that the ever-controversial and provocative artist, Kiki Smith, took on a classic tale of girl meets wolf? Through Little Red Riding Hood, Smith reinterprets the children’s story through a feminist lens. Her twist on the classic story can be seen in the lithograph entitled, Born (2002), in which the young protagonist's grandmother emerges from the wolf’s belly, rather than end up in it.