The function of a metaphor in art, whether in painting, sculpture, or writing, is generally to evoke a certain feeling or thought in one who reads or witnesses the work. Metaphors use symbolism and comparisons to strengthen a point, and they may also act to represent certain ideas or thoughts. Visual metaphors may be obvious or abstract, depending on the artist’s emotions, ideas or experiences.
One common example of a metaphor in art is the use of a cross or crucifix. This symbol is usually used to represent Christianity or certain aspects of the faith, such as peace, hope, salvation, judgment, or condemnation. The exact meaning behind a visual metaphor in art will depend on the frame of mind and feelings of the artist who created the work. For instance, a Christian painter may view the cross as a metaphor for hope, while someone has felt judged or ridiculed by the church may view it as symbolizing oppression or damnation.
In literature, metaphors are often used to prove a point or add description to a point. For instance, if the writer is describing someone who is angry or cranky, she may write “he was a bear” to symbolize this concept. Poetry also makes heavy use of metaphors, as do most works of fiction in order to help readers feel more connected to the time and place of the story being told. Overall, the use of a metaphor in art of any form is to engage an audience on a deeper level.
Although using a metaphor in art is one of the most effective ways to add deeper meaning or a greater sense of presence for the audience of a work, it is also one of the most difficult elements to incorporate. In fiction, the metaphor should be easily understood so that the reader gets a stronger and clearer idea of what the writer is trying to say. Metaphors which are too abstract or confusing will have the opposite effect.
In painting and similar visual art forms, there are often no such restrictions for the use of metaphors. Abstract paintings may feature symbols which seems completely unrelated to the them of the painting on the surface, but which may hold a special meaning for the artist. Additionally, many artists depict metaphorical symbols or pictures which can be taken in more than one way. This allows the viewer to become more engaged in the work because it allows him to decipher what the work means to him.