Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Brotherhood Of Men And Cabbages

Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-93) - Vertumnus, c. 1590-1

'[Arcimboldo] imposes a system of substitution (an apple comes to stand for a cheek, as in a coded message...), and, in the same way, a system of transposition (the whole figure is somehow drawn back toward the detail). However, and this is Arcimboldo's peculiarity, what is remarkable about the composite heads is that the picture hesitates between coding and decoding: even when we have displaced the screen of substitution and of transposition in order to perceive the head composed as an effect, our eyes retain the tracery of the first meanings which have served to produce this effect.'

From 'Arcimboldo or Magician and Rhétoriqueur' (in The Responsibility of Forms) by Roland Barthes