Word Portraits by John Sokol

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


: : Charles Baudelaire as Les Fleurs du Mal


: : Joyce Carol Oates as In the Region of Ice


: : Jorge Luis Borges as The Secret Miracle


: : W.H. Auden as Letter to Lord Byron


: : e. e. cummings as Selected Poems


: : Leo Tolstoy as War and Peace

I first came across John Sokol’s 'Word Portraits' via this article. They are a series of portraits of authors composed through their own words. What I like best about these is that they remind us that our physical features carry meaning that is beyond beauty. There is so much obsessing about "lines" on our faces and the impending doom of wrinkles in our culture, that it renders our physicality and body a negative thing. These portraits suggest a different realm of meaning carried through our faces and the lines they acquire. They also remind me of an old boyfriend who used to comment every time he saw me about a new pen mark on my hands and face (yes, I do use pen and paper, I just can't deal with writing on my laptop 100% of the time). I always used to like this comment, it seemed to hint to a layer of flesh distinctly marked by my mind. To view more of Sokol's amazing art, visit his website.

If you've ever been interested in taking ballet classes as an adult, click here to read my article on Behind Ballet. And stay tuned, as I have some (small) news to share soon ...

All images copyright John Sokol.


The above fore-mentioned. said...

these are amazing hila. so delicate and beautiful and wonderful find. thanks for sharing!

SJ said...

i had something more articulate to write, but i'm just going to go with the first thing that popped into my head when i saw these - awesome.

sara said...

wowww these are amazing! thank you for sharing.

Tana said...

that`s simply astonishing! such a pleasure to see into these creations with all the words written on. here every little word is important for the portrait composition, like our wrinkles or some traits carry our personal history and make the impression unique(so that was the first idea that came into my mind).

thea said...

love joyce carol oates!

Thanks for the pesach wishes :)
Chag Sameach :)

Emily Vanessa said...

I say it every time but never mind; I'm constantly amazed by the things you find, so in tune with the most wonderful things. At university, I was obsessed with Baudelaire and Les fleurs du Mal so the first picture is particularly meaningful for me. I really loved your article about adult ballet classes as well; flexibility's a weak point of mine so I'd love to try it.

If Jane said...

nice! (oh and i had to add more names...so please come over and see! ;)) xxn

lizzie said...

i JUST found these today from StumbleUpon and freaked out just a bit! what a great find, lady, they are magnificent.

Caitlin Rose said...

these are so amazing it almost seems pointless to mention it.

And it's so odd that you mentioned ballet lessons today of all days. I was twirling today (for a reason that will be revealed shortly) and I realized that I can't even twirl gracefully! I'm really not flexible though, do you think I would get laughed out of the class?

Sarah Morgan said...

These are so wonderful; they capture so much more than a traditional portrait would.

Thank you for sharing!

P R I M O E Z A said...

yes, these really are great.

mnemonique said...

lovely word portrets. I also had similar post about visual poetry : http://efektnimbu.blogspot.com/2011/04/poezja-wizualna-visual-poetry.html

aldrin said...

I really like Eudora Welty's word portrait. Leo Tolstoy - one of the original papa beards!

nikaela marie said...

woah! these are incredible. you're right, they say a lot in terms of our notions of beauty.


i have a dear friend who tells the sweetest story about taking a ballet class as an "adult" .... i am sure she will be interested in your article. :) x

bronwyn said...

These are truly astonishing.

MANDY said...

Really amazing ... thanks for sharing X

hila said...

fiona: I agree, they're very delicate and beautiful.

sj: yep, that pretty much sums it up :)

sara: my pleasure!

tana: I know, and I keep thinking how much time when into every little line.

thea: Chag Sameach to you too :)

emily vanessa: it comes from spending too much time on the internet :) and yes, do give ballet a shot, it's great for flexibility and muscle tone.

if jane: thanks again for the tag!

lizzie: yep, magnificent is the word :)

caitlin rose: I don't think any one would laugh you out of class :) these classes tend to be really supportive environments, so I'd definitely give it a try if you're interested.

sarah morgan: yes, I agree, they do capture something more than regular portraits.

primoeza: glad you like them :)

mnemonique: wonderful, I'll read this post soon, thanks!

aldrin: haha, papa beard ;) and what a beard he had!

nikaela marie: oh I'd love to hear her story.

bronwyn: aren't they just?

mandy: my pleasure mandy!

Sarah said...

Cannot get over these, they are simply amazing! And I love what you wrote about pen-lines, sounds just like me! I've got a horrible grip and so I smudge ink all over myself, my friends can alwys tell when I've been busy. Also, thankyou for the information about Ballet, I'm intrigued but a chicken... I flunked ballet as a child, something about being too impulsive... :P xoox

hila said...

aww, you should give a go if you like it though, I love my ballet classes.

and yes, these are so amazing, I still can't get over these portraits either.

andrea said...

So good! I linked to this post here: http://theartofstayingupallnight.blogspot.com/2011/05/weekend-links.html