Art and Language

As a follow-up to yesterday’s disappointing storytelling at the Poe Museum, we spent today at some of the Smithsonian museums in Washington. There is no one who does storytelling better than the Smithsonian. We were immersed over and over again into different worlds: the world of a painting. The world in a scrap of paper. The world in a fragment of bone. The world in a historical event or figure. Absolutely fascinating.

Our favourite exhibit was at the American Art Museum. It was called “Lists To dos Illustrated Inventories Collected Thoughts and Other Artists’ Enumerations.” Big title for an exhibit that was decidedly focused on the small. The list.

Inventory lists. Lists of inspiration. List as art. Grocery lists. To-do Lists. Lists in letters. A list of things one person loves about another. It was an amazing microscopic look into the minds of artists, their absurd quirks and their ordinary lives. The profound. The mundane.

And our favourite favourite part of our favourite exhibit was three post-cards by Ad Reinhardt. In these post-cards he lists the words that describe art and language into three categories: more adequate words, undesirable words, and dualism.

Here are a sampling of those words. While Mr Reinhardt is focused on art, think about how you feel about these words to describe theatre. I don’t necessarily agree with all the ‘undesirable’ words. Do you?


Art as……education, experience, inspiration, vision, adventure, creation, process, possibility, freedom, consciousness, imagination.


Art as….. communication, representation, entertainment, business, magic, information, hobby, therapy, self-expression, product.

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Lindsay Price

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