Semiotics at the crossroads of art

Virve Sarapik


This article first examines and compares three partly overlapping terms – visual semiotics, pictorial semiotics, and the semiotics of art – and aims at the specification of their interrelations. Then, the focus shifts to the problems of the semiotics of art, and the changing mutual relations between the semiotics of art and art history are analyzed. It is important to note that, during the last half-century, the notions of visual art, its ontology, and functions have thoroughly changed and, during recent decades, changes have also appeared on the meta-level of art history. The question is whether and how the semiotics of art should react to these changes.

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The official journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, founded in 1969 as one of the first scholarly journals in the field, Semiotica features articles reporting results of research in all branches of semiotic studies, in-depth reviews of selected current literature in the field, and occasional guest editorials and reports. The journal also publishes occasional Special Issues devoted to topics of particular interest.