Picturing Performance

November 1999
20 black and white, 10 line illustrations
269 pages
22.8x15.2 in
ISBN: 9781580460446
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press

Picturing Performance

The Iconography of the Performing Arts in Concept and Practice

Thomas F. Heck

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A systematic study of the visual arts as potential sources of historical documentation for the performing arts - music, drama and dance; also guidance on sources of images for the performing arts.
There has long been a need to introduce performing-arts enthusiasts and students to the fascinating field of iconography, both as manifested in art history and in its more pragmatic or applied forms. Yet relatively little systematic effort has been made to collect and interpret centuries of such visual evidence in the light of the best available art-historical information, combined with corroborating textual documentation and insights from the histories of performance disciplines. Aspiring iconographers of the performing arts need to be aware that there are often several levels of interpretation which great works of visual art will sustain. This book explores these levels of interpretation: a surface or literal reading, a deeper reading of the work which seeks to enter the mind of the artist and asks how and why he put a given work together, and the deepest reading of the work relating it to the artistic traditions and culture in which the artist lived. In expounding on these levels of iconographic interpretations four discourses by scholars active in the study of visual records are given in relation to traditions, techniques, and trends: performance in general (Katritzky), music (Heck), theatre (Erenstein), and dance (Smith). Effort is made to keep abreast of modern technology influencing iconographic representations as on the Internet and virtual reality.

Thomas F. Heck is Professor of Musicology and Head of the Music and Dance Library at the Ohio State University.


Scholars now entering the field, and those who teach them, will find this handbook helpful in conceptualizing the subject matter, refining their methods, and locating resources. NOTES vol. 57

The praise and gratitude of those studying Western performative traditions for assembling a collection that is both intellectually stimulating and practically useful. THEATRE JOURNALl

Described at one point as a 'handbook', this work will prove a genuinely helpful guide for researchers. The quality of the specialist contributions makes it more than a novices' manual. It is unusual to find a book which so successfully combines readable theoretical discourse with practical information. BURLINGTON MAGAZINE, vol. 44, iss 1189 (2002).