EDINBURGH.- The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
and the Scottish Poetry Library will join forces this autumn in celebrating Concrete Poetry, an art form that crosses easily between the literary and the visual. A Model of Order will take in a number of exhibitions and displays, in venues across Edinburgh, as well as a programme of special events. These will explore Concrete Poetry as an international movement, together with other, related forms of literary and artistic experimentation. Highlights of the display at the Dean Gallery will include original publications containing the work of major proponents of the movement, such as Eugen Gomringer, the Swiss/Bolivian poet, and printed works by Ian Hamilton Finlay, the internationally acclaimed Scottish artist, who died in 2006. This will be the first time that the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish Poetry Library have collaborated in this way.
During the early twentieth century, the European avant-garde set out to demolish the boundaries between traditional art forms. Artists, writers and poets began to combine words and imagery in a variety of ways that created many different visual effects. Scraps of newsprint and painted words found their way into Cubist oil paintings, while writers embraced a radical use of typography, as seen in early Futurist, Dada and Surrealist publications.
The term Concrete Poetry was coined in the 1950s, to describe the work of an international group of artists, based largely in Brazil and Germany. For them, each poem (which might consist of just a single word, crisply positioned on the page) was a thing in itself, real and concrete, having a clear structure and a material presence of its own. Scotland also played an important role in this movement, with the involvement of writers and artists such as Edwin Morgan and Ian Hamilton Finlay. For Finlay, the concrete poem was a model, of order, even if set in a space which is full of doubt.