Literature and pictorial art in A.N. Maikov-s artistic criticism. Article two: "poetry of pictorial art" and "pictorial art of poetry" in A.N. Maikov-s artistic criticism: On the issue of the poetic and the plastic in art

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The article regards A.N. Maikov-s artistic criticism as a unique document of the lore culture of the mid-19th century, which reproduces the process of mutual enrichment of poetic and plastic arts and allows us to see the new patterns of literary creativity establishment. The articles about the Academy of Arts exhibitions written by the poet and artist unite the theoretic reflection of the author and his poetic experiment. The texts demonstrate the critic-s distinct view that helped him to feel and understand the tendencies that started shaping in the art of the mid-19th century, to interpret them in his reviews, and raise this rather formal genre to the level of artistic criticism. In the center of Maikov-s reviews is one or several extended ekphrases describing the works of art that attracted particular attention of the audience, or pictures giving a reason for posing historical and theoretical questions. On the one hand, ekphrases illustrate Maikov-s theoretical views; on the other hand, they are a form of his creative reflection on the issue. Maikov approaches the description of pictures not as a critic, but as a poet: he makes an attempt of intersemiotic translation, reproducing the content and idea of the work of visual art by means of the art of declamation. For the critic it is important not only to describe the picture, doing a rhetoric exercise, but to understand the experience of visual art in reproducing external circumstances and inner content of any scene of life and to absorb this experience. For this reason, the description of pictures in Maikov-s articles turns into a kind of a creative experiment, reflecting the basic tendencies of modern lore art development. The use of ekphrasis as one of the basic genre and stylistic types of text in the structure of Maikov-s exhibition reviews is caused not only by the objective condition: the subject of the articles dictating the necessity to introduce picture descriptions, but also by the most important tendencies in the development of culture in the mid-19th century. For Maikov, pictorial art becomes a representative material which helps to understand the problems of literature development, discovers new opportunities of the lore itself, enriching it with formerly unavailable patterns of visualization of the depicted. Ekphrasis, built in the review, turns into a form of new opportunities implementation and at the same time into the continuation of their theoretic interpretation. This experience is significant in the context of the establishment of the diversity of the 19th-century Russian realistic prose which united the breadth of life phenomena and the dialectism of their interpretation, succinctness of the essayistic description and the deep psychological analysis of the scene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-146
Number of pages15
JournalVestnik Tomskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta, Filologiya
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • A.N. Maikov
  • Artistic criticism
  • Ekphrasis
  • Imperial Academy of Arts exhibitions
  • Literature
  • Pictorial art
  • The plastic
  • The poetic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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