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Volume 50 • Number 1

January 2013



Expression in the Representational Arts

by Catharine Abell

Understanding a work of representational art involves more than simply grasping what it represents. We can distinguish at least three types of content that representational works may possess. First, all representational works have explicit representational content. This includes the literal content of a linguistic work and the depictive content of a pictorial work. Second, they often have a conveyed content, which outstrips their explicit representational content, including much that is merely implicit in the work, and may exclude certain aspects of explicit representational content, as when explicit representational content is used for nonliteral forms of representation such as irony, metaphor, symbolism, or allegory. It is part of the conveyed content of Bruegel's The Fall of Icarus (c. 1560) that Icarus has just fallen from the sky, although the landscape does not depict his fall.

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ISSN: 2152-1123