Sligo Abbey, Ireland

The Photograph

A cup o' coffee on a snowy January morning


My photo
Current: Danbury, CT, United States
Welcome! A few years ago, I discovered an application that artists employ in their works to bring cultural awareness to their audiences. Having discerned this semiotic theory that applies to literature, music, art, film, and the media, I have devoted the blog, "Theory of Iconic Realism" to explore this theory. The link to the publisher of my book is below. If you or your university would like a copy of this book for your library or if you would like to review it for a scholarly journal, please contact the Edwin Mellen Press at the link listed below. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thank you for visiting. I hope you will find the information insightful. ~ Dr. Jeanne Iris
To view my page on the Edwin Mellen Press website, please click below:


I have demonstrated or will demonstrate the application of this theory at the following locations:
April, 2016 @ University of Notre Dame:
A 'Daughter of Attila' Speaks: The Semiotic Theory of Iconic Realism in the Cultural Identity of Irish Celts and Magyars
November, 2016 @ Massachusetts Maritime Academy:
"A Terrible Beauty is Born"...The Semiotic Theory of Iconic Realism and William Butler Yeats' poem, Easter 1916
Dates pending: I will present the theory of iconic realism at universities and art institutes which have purchased my book.

19 August, 2009

Vincent Van Gogh and Iconic Realism (Click onto title to hear Don McLean sing "Vincent" with accompanying Van Gogh paintings.)

Vincent Van Gogh

calligraphy by Huang Xiang

painting by William Rock

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh
(Translation of Huang Xiang's poetry, written in Chinese calligraphy on painting)

The painting holds high like torchesSunflowers turning high-heaven's blazing

To burn up the magnificent painting spirit stopped by a bulletTo burn down the temple of golden yellow
Opaque color -dabs like clots of
Gush fiery tears
Struggling lines feverishly erupt, twitching like raw nerves

The back view of a giant

An audience interprets visual art by incorporating the artistic components of color, form, line and texture. Each of these elements could be an iconic representation in that a community establishes a specific association with the artistic component. Over time, this component represents an aspect of the culture, which established the association. When the artist places this specific element in a realistic setting to convey another cultural issue, the use of iconic realism enables the viewing audience to interpret a new cultural dilemma (Lakatos 59).

An example of using a visual image to enhance meaning through the collective memory of a community exists within Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. He centrally places an iconic, celestial figure: moon, sun, stars, as a focal point, disproportionate to the small village With wide, brush strokes, he creates movement and thus, a memory that transcends the primary source of his painting, that of the cosmic link between structure of a silent society and chaos. He paints contrasts of light and dark, structure and non-structure, illuminating his audience of the need to consider the bleak constraints of organized spirituality. He paints a magnificent challenge for the members to consider enlightenment as an action that illumines the darkness of the soul. In this painting, Van Gogh illustrates his personal connection with nature and spirituality.


  1. An extraordinary appreciation of this painting, cause me to look at it anew.

  2. Thank you for your inspiring comment, A-S!

    Yes, Van Gogh's art has touched my soul since I was a little girl, and my parents took the family to a Van Gogh exhibit at the Detroit Library. Each time I gaze at any of his works, I see something new. Imagine how excited I felt to see that his works can also demonstrate this theory!

  3. I'm interested in Van Gogh for his life as much as his painting and how mental illness figures with a lot of artists ,poets etc. and how their outlets sometimes help them cope.And now that you mention it ,yes, the celestial stuff is huge compared to the earthly stuff, how did it not register as such with me before? This is one of my favourite paintings and yet I wonder if I've ever really looked at it at all.It is beautiful though, isn't it? Thanks Jeanne! I even sometimes (Drunk) like the song too (Vincent)by Don McLean .I'm no fan of rhymes in poetry but they often add a power to song.
    'morning fields of amber grain/ weathered faces lined in pain.' Is I think how a line goes.The latter soothed by the artists loving hand or something like that which makes me think painting helped him too.And then 'he took his life as lovers often do.'Star crossed lovers? Unrequited lovers? Lovers of painting? Lovers of poetry....???

  4. Yes! If you look at the dark, constrained manner he paints the village and the central building there, the church, as opposed to the grand nature of the sky, you will see his internal yearning for that natural freedom and enlightenment. Anne Sexton's poem, "The Starry Night," also an example of ekphrasis, addresses this yearning, too.

    I KNEW there was something I needed to do today. Put up the Don McLean song...Hopefully, I'll be able to find the one with all of his paintings aligning with the lyrics, just beautiful! Thanks for reminding me, TFE!