Art history identification
March 29, 2009 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to remember a famous painting or graphic in which the artist presents a word such as "blue" painted in red. Or vice-versa. Or some other color combination.
posted by Jeff Howard to Society & Culture (16 answers total)
Are you sure you aren't thinking of the language test? It can be used to determine if someone is a native speaker of, say, English. You give them a list of color names, each in a color other than the one it names. You then ask them to tell you the color that the word is written in. If the person doesn't speak English, they'll fly through it. If they do, they'll hesitate, as they're forced to suppress their language center reading the words.
posted by aleahey at 12:43 PM on March 29, 2009

I'm thinking maybe Jasper Johns. This is half-way there, maybe. Or this (slide 14)?
posted by londongeezer at 1:05 PM on March 29, 2009

See here for a discussion.
posted by londongeezer at 1:08 PM on March 29, 2009

It's called the Stroop effect, and these tests are used to evaluate psychological capabilities. I don't recall ever seeing/hearing of a work of art centered around this, though.
posted by wsp at 1:09 PM on March 29, 2009

Response by poster: I'm not familiar with the language test, but it sounds like it sets up the same sort of conflict that the painting exploited. If I remember correctly, the image I'm thinking of was very simple. Plain letters on a flat background.
posted by Jeff Howard at 1:11 PM on March 29, 2009

Many Stroop tests look fairly similar - lists of words on a white background - and they can be found in a lot of places (Internet, psychology textbooks, and generally in any place where you'd expect to see things of a "Hey look what your brain can do!" nature). So maybe you're thinking of one of these?
posted by wsp at 1:16 PM on March 29, 2009

Now available as a flash game. (Has sound)
posted by the latin mouse at 1:23 PM on March 29, 2009

Sol Lewitt's Red Square, White Letters?
posted by suedehead at 1:31 PM on March 29, 2009

Here's a better version of the above.
posted by suedehead at 1:32 PM on March 29, 2009

Response by poster: wsp, it's definitely exploiting the Stroop effect, and I suppose I could have seen it in a psychology class in college, but I thought it was in the context of an art history class. These are all great examples but the image I'm thinking of, for whatever reason, was something like a single word in huge letters. Not a list of words.
posted by Jeff Howard at 1:52 PM on March 29, 2009

Jasper Johns?
He used numbers more than color names, but years ago there was a huge retrospective of his work at the Smithsonian, and there were a number of pieces where he had played with the idea of putting color names on fields of incorrect hues, and other similar concepts. I had to write papers about this for my Art History class.
posted by Mizu at 4:04 PM on March 29, 2009

Sounds like Magritte to me...
posted by hermitosis at 5:34 PM on March 29, 2009

Possibly Ed Ruscha?
posted by mammary16 at 6:05 PM on March 29, 2009

I don't think Magritte. I can't recall anything of his with text like that.

Do you have any memory of texture in it? You say it was on a flat background, but was the word itself flat and solid, like it was printed, or textured like paint?
posted by hippugeek at 6:16 PM on March 29, 2009

Response by poster: I don't remember any texture at all, so it could have been a graphic rather than a painting, or maybe it was reproduced in an art history book. The closest visual analogy is something like an EXIT sign.
posted by Jeff Howard at 7:02 PM on March 29, 2009

You might want to check out other artists who work in text, like Lawrence Weiner, Barbara Kruger, Christopher Wool, Joseph Kosuth, etc.
posted by suedehead at 5:47 AM on March 30, 2009

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