British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (2):149-167 (2011)
Pictures are sometimes said to be ironic. In many cases this is an error—the error of confusing an ironic picture with a picture of an ironic situation. Nevertheless some pictures are ironic, and there are two interestingly different ways for that to be the case. A picture may be ironic in style, in which case its irony is independent of the context in which it is presented; or a picture may be ironic by virtue of its context of presentation. Having sorted this out, we can solve two problems: why do we often make mistakes about the irony in pictures? The answer has something to do with the nature of pictures themselves. Is the irony which is sometimes represented in a picture ever the product of the picture itself? The answer, yes, shows that there is a closer connection than we might otherwise have thought between the irony of representations and the irony represented in representations
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