Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type





Tom Sherman


Eastern philosophy, humanity, painting and language, post-modern painting, This is not a pipe, visual languages


My research intends to explore the ongoing path of contemporary painting through the lenses of architecture, literature, and techne in terms of both methodology and the filter of Eastern philosophical ideas, such as a void and relationships, as expressed in cultural history. In academics, I initially studied English Literature with passionate academic enthusiasm (I learned many poems and read multiple theses pertaining to architecture while attending classes in architecture, French literature, and German literature). As MoMA provides opportunities for studying architecture, fashion and literature, I want to explore the different ways in which certain new trends in the visual arts are now erasing the definite lines between fine art and art of daily life, painting and other mediums, Eastern and Western, and North Korea and South Korea.

My trial to amalgamate all visual and aural language is inspired by my denial of the proposition “This is not a painting”, which I believe is both a preposterous and a controversial idea. The process includes the grafting of painting on different characters. After Clement Greenberg’s dogma era, painting was no longer a matter of trends or story subject matter. The form of painting changes for each generation; however, the content still stresses humanity.

For example, Rene Magritte drew a pipe and captioned it, “This is not a pipe”. There are two seminal ideas here in Rene Magritte’s image of a pipe. The first refers to the relationship between painting and language. The second refers to the relationship between painting and artistic representation. Painting starts from language, but it then evolves to become a visual expression. Thus, a painting can become a mirror image interpreted by its painter’s eyes and ideas, not an actual representation of reality. An expansion of the visual language of contemporary painting’ is not a problem of image content, but rather it is a problem emanating from “a way of seeing”, “a way of thinking”, and the lens or filter that is employed to “interpret” that image thusly.

As Magritte believed, the linguistic assumption that one paints to expand the territory of pictorial language, but then asserts that this image is not a painting, is an attempt to engender different things by adding, dividing, multiplying, and subtracting other visual idioms, thereby stressing the correlation between other visual language and the act of painting. However, that change is a form of painting after all. This view is meaningful in that it is an attempt to discover the possibility of integrating painting with other mediums to rediscover the indispensable, eternal value of painting through a contradictory process wherein the denial of a preposition after all turns new attention to the affirmation of that same preposition. What has changed in this painting is not the content or theme, but its form. The mission of post-modern painting was indeed to change its form.

Painting is not simply an expression of one-sided thought and emotion completed by individual artists. Viewers are expected to see painting from integration rather than judging that painting’s specificity which has been shattered in contemporary art. Paradoxically, through the processes of hybridizing, different stage setting, I suggest that the essence of painting is the revival of humanity. The zeitgeist (spirit of the times) yearns for a Renaissance (rebirth). It is a Re-Renaissance that is needed for especially for post-modern people who crave humanity.

This paper is of significance in that it is an exploration of painting’s identity and new orientation. That is, it is intended to explore the nature and value of painting through a comparative, amalgamative study into other forms of visual and aural language. This is also to consider what new perspectives can be employed to figure out painting’s peculiarity as a medium in terms of cultural history, and how painting assumes the role of a precursor couched in different visual languages in terms of form.


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