Modern Art Monday Presents: E.E. Cummings, Noise Number 13

Noise Number 13
Photo By Gail

E.E.Cummings (1894 – 1962) is best known as a poet, but he also worked as a painter, referring to the visual and literary arts as his “twin obsessions.” In a series of abstractions made between 1919 and 1925 — titled either Sound or Noise followed by a number — Cummings explored sensory crossover between aural and visual forms. In Noise Number 13, spiraling and conical shapes seem to expand and contract; each overlapping color (or noise) vie to stand out from the others.

Cummings’ painterly vision is also reflected in his poems, particularly those composed with complicated line breaks and non-traditional spacing on the page. Those poems must be looked at to be heard — and the converse might be said of experiencing Noise Number 13, whose throbbing configurations we can imagine hearing.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum of America Art in NYC.

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