How Literature Inspires Visual Art, p.1
When it comes to communication through media, illustration tops the list as one of the best forms to communicate ideas to the masses. Not only do pictures decorate and delight, they also inform and inspire. Going back in time, the drawings that man made on cave walls and rocks played a significant role in story-telling and relaying information to others.
It is without a doubt that literature inspires visual art. You may ask, “How?” Well, what we read creates a series of emotions, making us react to the characters, their environment, and what transpires. Not only does literature inspire art in its traditional form, it also encourages new ideas in the modern media.
Almost, if not all films, which are a form of art, are inspired by words and scripts. For instance, looking at what Tim Burton did for the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ stories, he created yet another fantastic visual interpretation from classic literature.
Currently, illustrations are being used for several other purposes, such as advertising, storyboards, animatics, video animation, and video-cases, to name a few. For example, some of the best illustrations from iLustra – a leading illustration company – are used in advertisements.
Some literary pieces such as poems, songs and books tend to create a specific aura and move on to inspire creations, either for the present generation or one to come years later.
Let us take a look at some art pieces influenced by great literary works.
Sir John Everett Millais, Ophelia (1851-1852)
In this painting done in the 19th century, John Everett portrays Ophelia, a character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Ophelia was very upset after Hamlet murdered her father. Everett captures Ophelia singing before drowning herself.
John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott (1888)
Waterhouse was inspired by Tennyson’s 1832 ‘The Lady of Shalott’ poem. The poem narrates the saddening ordeal of an Arthurian damsel, left alone in a tower cursed to only see the world via a mirror reflection. One day, she catches a glimpse of Lancelot and could not resist the urge to look at him straight, causing the cursed mirror to break.
John William depicts her endeavor to try to reach Camelot before the curse kills her.
David Hockney, Myself and My Heroes (1962)
A youthful David Hockney pictured himself alongside two of his significant influences: Mahatma Gandhi and poet Walt Whitman. Inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem ‘I Hear It Was Charged Against Me,’ Hockney inscribed the line, “For the dear love of comrades,” above Whitman’s image.
Think of the influence the Greeks and Romans have on our art, or the works devoted to Shakespeare's characters. Anytime a writer opens the world of words to a reader's heart, images bloom.
People have imaginary worlds they treasure, built through layers of reads and re-reads of favorite literary pieces. Of course, the artist is no different, in that they too have these visual worlds within. With the themes being universal and timeless, they indeed become food for thought. For the imaginative, they can be described somehow as a marriage made in heaven.