As in my previous work, I define ekphrasis (following up Meir Sternberg’s quotation theory) as intermedial quotation or re-presentation (representation in the second degree). My focus here is on the intersection of two of its less common forms: Double Exposure and the Museum Book doublet. However, I would argue, their analysis, apart and a fortiori together, yields theoretical, interpretative, even art-historical conclusions that extend beyond either of the special cases or their joint product. Ekphrastic double exposure simultaneously evokes a number of totally unrelated visual sources, while the recent genre of museum books re-presents an artwork twice: a visual reproduction is published side by side with its verbal re-presentation. The two forms subtly meet in a poem by Paul Durcan, where a fifteenth-century painting by Giovanni di Paolo is reproduced together with a poetic monologue presumably uttered by the twentieth-century painter David Hockney. But where is the ekphrasis? The given two-in-one invites a search for Hockney paintings, concealed behind the text’s ostensible glances at the medieval painting by Giovanni. A close reading discloses that some Hockney artworks are implicitly re-presented within the monologue. This transforms the poem into a complex case of ekphrastic double exposure, at the same time as it reveals Durcan’s surprising but insightful reading, or re-reading, of the juxtaposed artists and artworks, of the medieval and the modern. Reviewing the effects and point of the strange mixture, the article’s final section argues against the scholarly attempts to split ekphrasis between “literary description” and “art critical interpretation.” Rather, literary ekphrastic texts, which Durcan’s brilliantly exemplifies, sometimes combine the two roles. They re-present artworks in a new, estranging manner that suggests not only innovative ways of reading art but also new lines of research for historians and theorists.
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Tamar Yacobi; Ekphrastic Double Exposure and the Museum Book of Poetry. Poetics Today 1 June 2013; 34 (1-2): 1–52. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-1894487
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