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.