Word-Based Art For Your Collection!

Collectors' Tip, Top Lists

May 31, 2018

For decades, artists have been harnessing the power of letters and written words. Emerging in the 1960s with conceptual art, word-based art employed language instead of brush and canvas, emphasizing ideas over visual forms. Thoughtfully utilizing text as a primary vehicle of communication in their artistic expression, these artists created works that pushed boundaries, shocked and seduced.

Text continues to be a vital part of contemporary artists’ practices. While some of them explore the beauty of lettering alone, experimenting with complex calligraphy, others strive to utilize text as a vehicle to convey powerful messages. We have compiled a list of word-based artworks that you can own right now!

Featured image: Buhlebezwe Siwani - iKhobokha 1 (detail), 2016. All images courtesy of their respective galleries.

Luciano Caggianello - Giotto pret-a-porter

Emerging as a graphic designer and illustrator in the advertising field, Luciano Caggianello undertook an artistic route of research that led to a significant body of work exhibited in museums worldwide. Through a conceptual art practice, he developed the idea of combinations of words, weaving an intellectual appeal to literary and philosophical research.

Created in his distinct minimalist aesthetic, the work Giotto pret-a-porter is a perceptual synthesis of his didactic, cultural and intellectual concerns.

See more information about the work here.

Emanuel Mooner - I Am Real, 2017

Best known for the use of found objects, Emanuel Mooner transforms remains, remnants and scrap into compelling works of art.

Created in 2017, the mixed-media work I Am Real is comprised of neon green rods suspended on concrete.

See more info about the work here.

L'Atlas - Decalcomania, 2018

The French street artist L'Atlas is known for his explorations of calligraphy and geometry that became main aspects of his art. All about lines and forms, his work is a combination of influences, ranging from Ancient Greek and Arabic calligraphy to modern tags. His moniker is the main subject of his work, serving as a vehicle for the renewal of his approach to the expression of the letter and line.

Created in 2008, the work Decalcomania demonstrates his distinct codified rhythm of writing. It is executed in a range of black and grey tones.

See more info about the work here.

Rero - Untitled (What Shall We Do Next...), 2014

The practice of the French artist Rero lies somewhere between Urban Art and Conceptual Art. He questions the context of art as well as the codes that govern images and intellectual property. His interventions in the public and private spaces are aimed at provoking the contemplation of a work of art and its connection with the aesthetic and moral order.

The work Untitled (What Shall We Do Next...) from 2014 is executed in Verdana font which is a constant in all Rero's works. A minimalist strike-through line is planted on a traditional surface, becoming embedded within the medium.

See more info about the work here.

DFACE - Riot, 2009

Rising to fame in 2005, D*Face captivated the art world with his inexhaustible mind full of ideas and endless creativity. Constantly reinventing himself, he is known for his pop-inflected body of work that critiques the modern world, in particular, consumerism and the American Dream.

Appropriating the language of old advertising posters, the artist created a work that tackles consumerist culture. The work Riot from 2009 is dominated by a powerful call to action. Each print from the series is hand-aged by the artist - sanded, burnished, airbrushed, and featuring a specially formulated heavy antique varnish.

See more info about the work here.

Buhlebezwe Siwani - iKhobokha 1, 2016

An engaging South African artist, Buhlebezwe Siwani combines performance, installation art and photography to send delicate messages across to the viewers. Confronting historical marks of patriarchal and western ideals of beauty, power, gender and spirituality, she aims to offer a new perspective on life.

The work iKhobokha 1 from 2016 is part of the series in which the artist used a brand of green soap which has multiple uses in South Africa. In these works, she captures the vessels in which the soap’s leftover green sediment has collected.

See more info about the work here.

Robert Indiana - Four Seasons of Hope, Gold Portfolio (Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn), 2012

Throughout the career that spanned several decades, Robert Indiana created one of the most iconic and widely reproduced artworks of the 20th century. His bold rendering of the word "love", comprised of two parts of colorful capital letters stacked in a square, in which the letter O swoons on its side, has became as universal as the word itself.

In 2008, when Barack Obama ran for office, Robert Indiana gave his support by recasting LOVE /i> as another four-letter wordHOPE executed in the same typography. Created in his distinct graphics that is both timeless and timely, the work conveys the political message of our time.

The series Four Seasons of Hope, Gold Portfolio (Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn) is comprised of four works executed in subtle gradations of color to suggest each season.

See more info about the work here.

Ben Eine - Charming

The British street artist Ben Eine is a true pioneer in the exploration of graffiti letterforms. Celebrated for his peculiar alphabet lettering style, he has developed colorful typography that adorns cities worldwide.

The work Charming depicts a single word created in Eine's signature font characterized by beautifully decorated letter with contrasting sections and bouncing curves. The word is set against a dark background, patterned with a deep-purple triangular design.

See more info about the work here.

Blade - Optical Allusion, 2013

Regarded as a graffiti pioneer, Blade rose to prominence with iconic pieces created on New York subway between 1972 and 1984. Having a unique lettering style, he later progressed towards a more abstract visual aesthetics.

The work Optical Allusion is executed in artist's signature vibrant colors. Although the work is created recently, it evokes Blade's recognizable 1980s aesthetics.

Find more info about the work here.

TOMAK - The Last to Know-God Hates a Coward

TOMAK is an artistic figure, staged persona and a brand - all at once. the Viennese artist explains his state of mind with a word he came up with himself - ANTIST. This means mirroring reality and ridiculing human's constant hunger for money and power.

The present work is quite minimalistic. It is comprised of words "God Hates a Coward" set against a dark background.

See more info about the work here.

Follow These Artists

Ben Eine

Follow These Galleries

Addicted Art Gallery

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Woodward Gallery

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Fabien Castanier Gallery - Culver City

Culver City, United States of America