I'm looking for a term, preferably one or two words, that refers to the union of visual art + words/language. Probably a noun. Something that might describe an instance where art and language come together in a positive way.

If there's not a word that means that exactly, then maybe an art technique that evokes that same idea, or an action/verb.

I'm writing something that has rhetoric/word metaphors around one character and art metaphors around another character, so I'm looking for a word/term/technique/idea that describes a union of the two. I'm grateful for the help!

  • Please edit an example of visual + linguistic art, from your perspective, into the OP.
    – user98990
    Jun 27, 2015 at 6:58
  • 1
    Graphic novels!
    – Tushar Raj
    Jun 27, 2015 at 7:02
  • Many Chinese and Japanese paintings. Jun 28, 2015 at 12:03

3 Answers 3


A good example of the marriage of visual and literary art can be found in "illuminated manuscripts," both religious and secular.

Illuminated manuscript

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An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented with such decoration as initials, borders (marginalia) and miniature illustrations. In the strictest definition of the term, an illuminated manuscript refers only to manuscripts decorated with gold or silver, but in both common usage and modern scholarship, the term refers to any decorated or illustrated manuscript from Western traditions.

The earliest surviving substantive illuminated manuscripts are from the period AD 400 to 600, produced in Italy and the Eastern Roman Empire.

The majority of surviving manuscripts are from the Middle Ages, although many survive from the Renaissance, along with a very limited number from Late Antiquity. The majority of these manuscripts are of a religious nature. However, especially from the 13th century onward, an increasing number of secular texts were illuminated. Most illuminated manuscripts were created as codices, which had superseded scrolls. (Wikipedia)

All Religions are One

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All Religions are One is a series of philosophical aphorisms by William Blake, written in 1788. Following on from his initial experiments with relief etching in the non-textual The Approach of Doom (1787), All Religions are One and There is No Natural Religion represent Blake's first successful attempt to combine image and text via relief etching, and are thus the earliest of his illuminated manuscripts. As such, they serve as a significant milestone in Blake's career; as Peter Ackroyd points out, "his newly invented form now changed the nature of his expression. It had enlarged his range; with relief etching, the words inscribed like those of God upon the tables of law, Blake could acquire a new role." (Wikipedia)

William Blake

William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry led one contemporary art critic to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". (Wikipedia)


Literature with the following connotation may fit:

  • Imaginative or creative writing, especially of recognized artistic value: (AHD)

Assuming you are talking about art, and not say hieroglyphics where the forms are fixed, take a look at the product of modern calligraphers. Eg see some Denis Brown here, which seems to fit your description very well: http://www.quillskill.com/prints/essence_b.jpg Or Dave Wood here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/dave-wood-art.html

The idea is that the combination of script, colour and shape of the text body contributes to and enhances the meaning of the words. That's why calligraphy is used extensively in logos. I don't know that there's a specific term for this, beyond calligraphy.

'Calligrams' are popular in modern calligraphy and are a fairly specific example. Google images and you'll get the idea.

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