A posmodern reconfiguration of paratext concept in visual arts

Carmen Porta Salvia, Stephen Hampshire

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review


    In the plastic arts, there are works of art that function in similar way to the "paratext" in literature. This fact has led us to reflect on how contemporary works of art (which we understand as paratexts) allude to a previous original (which we understand as the maintext). This textual matrix, in which secondary works of art refer and relate back to the historical masterpieces, reveals much about how we currently understand art. The aim of this paper is to examine how works of art have developed from a masterpiece and can be read in the same way as paratexts. The existence of a paratext (i.e. a contemporary work of art) means that not only can we read the main text (i.e. a historical masterpiece) differently but we can also examine the way in which each artist has represented elements of the original historical masterpiece in his/her own new work of art. "Everything means without cessation and several times" (Barthes, 2001). This approach enables us to examine how we read and interpret contemporary works of art, in addition to significantly different reinterpretations of the original masterpiece.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9-20
    JournalArte, Individuo y Sociedad
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


    • Interpretation
    • Paratext
    • Repetition


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