Art History Emoji

Katherine Gregory
Feb 14, 2013 7:00PM

As contemporary conceptual art is more frequently rooted in performance and everyday objects, it has found itself well-suited to the delightfully simple emoji lexicon. Tumblr user ladiesupfront has inspired a wave of #emojiarthistory tags, in which the cutesy icons quite aptly summarize the practices of many of today's most famous contemporary artists, including Nam June Paik, Cindy Sherman, and Marina Ambramovic. Artist Man Bartlett has been continuing to foster the experiment on Twitter, receiving dozens of endlessly entertaining replies. Though Edvard Munch is the only artist that can claim his own emoji, the appropriation of the enormous and often random keyboard of symbols gives me hope for the iPhone-addicted (myself included). By this I mean that though we may constantly have glowing rectangles in our hands, we don't shut off our cognitive facilities and tune out from intelligently processing popular culture, but instead connect emoji's little charms to incredibly difficult artistic practices. Even with iPhone constantly in hand, we can still engage with and try to break down these complex conceptual projects. Thus, art imitates iPhone, and iPhone imitates art.

Katherine Gregory
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019