Monographic course by Enric Bou

This course offers tools for understanding the relationships between a literature based on traditional text and one in which images hold a privileged place from a historical view of visual poetry’s role in the avant-garde. Reading and looking at visual poetry makes us redefine our attitudes as readers – we must read little by little, because the message pulls our attention to itself – and even causes us to see reading in a new light. Or, at least, "to look at it" through new eyes, because it pulls us to the centre of linguistic sign creation: the establishment of zones of confusion – or ambiguity – between significant and significance.

By examining examples from the tradition of visual poetry, we can see how the concept of "open" work progresses. From straightforward messages in antiquity we arrive at particularly complex messages in the 20th century: multiple meanings that rely on connotation, requiring the reader's active participation in order to read the drawings or look at the texts.

This educational activity is recognised by the Ministry of Education's Directorate-General for Innovation and will be held in Catalan.

Enric Bou (Barcelona, 1954) has been a lecturer in the Department of Hispanic Studies at Brown University (USA) since 1996. His publications include Papers privats. Assaig sobre les formes literàries autobiogràfiques (1993), Voces en el Museo. Arte y literatura en la modernidad (1997), Pintura en el aire. Arte y literatura en la modernidad hispánica (2001) and Daliccionario. Objetos, mitos y símbolos de Salvador Dalí (2004). He supervised the critical editions of the collected works of Joan Salvat-Papasseit, Joan Maragall and Guerau de Liost, as well as the Complete Works de Pedro Salinas (2007). He is also the editor of the Nou Diccionari 62 de la Literatura Catalana (2000) and a general anthology of visual poetry, La crisi de la paraula La Poesia Visual: un discurs poètic alternatiu (2003).

In collaboration with:
Fundació Suñol


Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22, Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 September at 7 pm

Tuesday September 21
Experimental Literature: Romanticism and symbolism (from Novalis to Mallarmé)

During this session we will review some of the key developments that occurred in Romanticism and that were used in Symbolism: the cultivation of free verse, the spread of poems in prose, and aesthetic and moral changes. We will read a selection of representative German and French texts.

Wednesday September 22
Reading drawings or looking at texts (the tradition of visual poetry). Types of word-text relationships: from words to painting.

From Greco-Latin antiquity to the Baroque period and until the avant-gardes, numerous writers and artists have explored the possibilities of interrelating words and images. We will look at some of the most significant examples: liberation of words (free words, calligrams, collage); strengthening of words (photomontage); decomposition of words (phonetic and “optophonetic” poetry, games with letters and numbers, concrete or abstract poetry); destruction of the rational ties to words (hypnagogic images, dreamlike writing); and substitution of words (found objects, surrealist constructed objects).

Monday September 27
Examples of Reading: the historic avant-gardes (Marienetti, Apollinaire, Schwitters)

Discussion about the fundamental features of the avant-garde movements and commentaries on a large selection of visual poetry, from pure art to advertising, up until the concrete poetry of the 1960s and lletrisme. Special attention will be shown to Gil J. Wolman's works.

Tuesday September 28
Sample Readings: the avant-garde in Catalonia (Josep M. Junoy, Salvat-Papasseit, Joan Brossa, Guillem Viladot)

Discussion about the adaptation and the contribution to the renovation of visual poetry by the avant-gardes in Catalonia using a large selection of examples. Special attention will be shown to Benet Rossell's works, dibuixos amanits (oiled drawings) and dibutext (drawing-texts).


Adler, Jeremy & Ulrich, Ernst. Text als Figur. Visuelle Poesie von der Antike bis zur Moderne. Weinheim: Vertrieb, VHC Verlagsgesellschaft, 1987.

Bohn, Willard. The aesthetics of visual poetry. 1914-1928. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Bürger, Peter. Teoría de la vanguardia. Barcelona: Ediciones Península, 1987.

Cózar, Rafael de. Poesía e imagen. Formas difíciles de ingenio literario. Sevilla: Ediciones El Carro de la Nieve, 1991.

Higgins, Dick. Pattern Poetry. Guide to an Unknown Literature. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987.

Junoy, Josep Maria. Obra poètica. Barcelona: Quaderns Crema, 1984.

Molas, Joaquim. Literatura catalana d’avantguarda. Barcelona: Antoni Bosch editor, 1983.

Molas, Joaquim & Bou, Enric. La crisi de la paraula. Antologia de la poesia visual. Barcelona: Edicions 62, 2003.

Peignot, Jérôme. Typoésie. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale Éditions, 1993.

Resina, Joan Ramon (Ed.). El aeroplano y la estrella. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997.

Salvat-Papasseit, Joan. Poesies completes. Barcelona: Ariel, 1981.

MACBA Public Programs
Tel. (+34) 93 481 46 81
programespublics [at] macba [dot] cat



Exemples de lectura: les avantguardes històriques (Marinetti, Apollinaire, Schwitters)
Llegir dibuixos o mirar textos (la tradició de la poesia visual). Tipologies de la relació paraula-text: de la paraula a la pintura
Literatura experimental: romanticisme i simbolisme (de Novalis a Mallarmé)
Llegir dibuixos o mirar textos (la tradició de la poesia visual). Tipologies de la relació paraula-text: de la paraula a la pintura
Literatura experimental: romanticisme i simbolisme (de Novalis a Mallarmé)
Son[i]a #110. Enric Bou