The Legacy and Future of Saussurean Semiology in the Study of Art and Visual Communication

Maja Rudloff, Rasmus Kjærboe

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The present study discusses how the emergence of semiology has outlined a new trajectory for visual and pictorial studies. First, we outline how Ferdinand de Saussure’s thoughts on the sign and its relation to visual communication has developed. Second, we interrogate its impact on art history, an already established science of visuality, throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Third, we briefly discuss whether art history’s answer to reading Saussure is a denial or a positive affirmation of political responsibility shared by visual studies in general. The study highlights some of the most pertinent parts of the Saussurean legacy for the study of visual communication as a system, and some of the challenges and
opportunities this legacy has created.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage and Semiotic Studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)123-132
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • visual communication
  • semiology
  • images
  • art
  • art history

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