Summary and Info
Do the arts mean? Do all the arts mean? Do they all mean in the same way? Does an art work mean in the same way in which a street sign means? More importantly, do all art works mean in a semiotically interesting way? This book argues for the importance of those formal meanings in the arts which most effectively enrich our knowledge of "the way things are" and train our cognitive faculties to deal with them. Jackson Barry examines the meaning of art works as read through their material and formal constituents using a semiotic approach which clarifies the historical and cultural forces molding these sensorially elaborated "signs." Medieval wheel-of-fortune diagrams, a Shakespeare play, non-objective painting, and a stage set for Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, all demonstrate the interplay between concepts struggling for expression and the available matter and form for their manifestation. At the end, the author considers the biological basis for art as defined in contemporary cognitive science.