Ambiguity is inherent in images because visual perception is an interpretative act involving memory and imagination. Modern art has made this aspect of perception crucial to its relationship with the viewer. Potential Images, the first systematic exploration of this topic, considers those works of art that rely to a great degree on imaginative response.
Dario Gamboni concentrates on the last decades of the nineteenth and first decades of the twentieth centuries, during which ambiguity and indeterminacy became defining characteristics of art. He examines how work by Redon, Gauguin, Rodin, Duchamp and numerous others sought to involve the beholder and reshaped artistic communication. Drawing on a vast range of sources, Gamboni finds striking parallels in other realms of contemporary culture and points to the intense exchanges that supported this process of cultural transformation. Potential Images also identifies the historical antecedents of this appeal to the viewer, finally proposing a conception of art in which artist and audience occupy symmetrical, equal and even interchangeable positions.