“French philosopher and literary critic Jacques Derrida uses the term trace in literary criticism, to describe the remnant of all non-present meanings, sounds, or written markings on the page—especially in the sense that features are identifiable only by the absence of other features. Both painting and poetry leave in their path clues that something has been present, a spark, a tag, in a just-barely detectable amount, a suggestion of quality.
Wallace Stevens first delivered “Relations Between Poetry and Painting” as a lecture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1951. In this essay, Stevens explored the parallel attributes of poetry and painting. Wallace’s thesis is based on the notion that, in an age of disbelief, the arts in general are a “…compensation for what has been lost.” “…men feel that the imagination is the next greatest power to faith, the reigning prince.” Because poetry and painting operate at the juncture between imagination and reality, these arts assume a prophetic stature and become a “…vital assertion of self.”