'From the standpoint of the word/image problematic, [...] the difficult and deeply ethical/political task of art history may be somewhat clearer. If art history is the art of speaking for and about images, then it is clearly the art of negotiating the difficult, contested border between words and images, of speaking for and about that which is “voiceless,” representing that which cannot represent itself. The task may seem hopelessly contradictory: if, on the one hand, art history turns the image into a verbal message or a “discourse,” the image disappears from sight. If, on the other hand, art history refuses language, or reduces language to a mere servant of the visual image, the image remains mute and inarticulate, and the art historian is reduced to the repetition of cliches about the ineffability and untranslatability of the visual. The choice is between linguistic imperialism and defensive reflexes of the visual.'

W. J. T. Mitchell, 'Word and Image', in Critical Terms for Art History, edited by Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff, publisher: University of Chigaco Press

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