Disegno Esterno and Disegno Interno

Obviously from the examples cited above, certain artistic styles, or vocabularies, can more efficiently convey certain narratives than others. If the artist intends for the audience to relate to an image and believe it to have actually happened, then the figures, furniture, and pets painted within must look as they do in our reality. At this point, I need to introduce two historical terms: disegno esterno and disegno interno, and to accomplish this, I will use a “work of art” created by Joseph Kosuth entitled Art as Idea as Idea, 1966. (This was actually framed and exhibited in a gallery. While visually, it may not offer much to the audience, conceptually it reinforces exactly what we’re discussing.)


In the above synopsis, I have divided the “definition of image” into two segments. The first, which we call disegno esterno, focuses on image as copy, as a duplicate of something exisitng in the real world. The term disegno esterno translates as “image comes from the outside,” or more accurately, the inspiration for the image comes from what the artist actually observes in the world outside. If the artist intends to paint an image of a tree, then he should closely observe a real tree (outside preferably) in order to get it “correct” in his painting. Therefore, the painted image becomes a likeness or similtude of the true object as produced by the artist’s observation and study of that object. The second half of Kosuth’s definition reflects disegno interno. Here, the image comes from “inside,” the realm of the artist’s creative imagination or fantasy. Disegno interno is a mental picture that is created without any study or reference to true objects on the “outside.”

image: copy, likeness, semblance, apparition, conception. A likeness or similtude of something, a representation in the solid form as a statue or effigy, an optical counterpart of an object as produced by reflection, an illusion or apparition, also a counterpart or copy. **** Also, a symbol or emblem, type of embodiment, also a mental picture or representation, or formed by the memory or imagination; an idea or conception, a metaphor or a simile.