Invitational Rhetoric in Art

Invitational rhetoric does not seek to persuade an audience, but to share the rhetor’s perspective. As Foss and Griffn put it, invitational rhetoric has the goal of inviting the audience “to enter the rhetor’s world, and see it as the rhetor does.” With this definition, perhaps physical art is an interesting example of the methodology.

When our tour group entered the Accademia Gallery, Isabella began to explain some theories behind Michelangelo’s work process. At one point, she explained that it is believed that Michelangelo truly believed that the figures of his sculptures were contained within the stone. His goal was then to uncover the figure by removing the stone in the right way. To me, it seems as though Michelangelo was uncovering his vision of the figure, showing to his audience his perspective on what the figure looks like. If we consider Michelangelo’s David, it is not that he was trying to persuade his audience of the emotion that David had before killing Goliath. By creating The David, Michelangelo showed an audience the emotion that David had in his world. Michelangelo invites his audience to see what this event looked like from his perspective. It seems fitting that a sculpture or a painting can be considered invitational rhetoric. No matter the purpose behind a piece, there is always a form of expression. Through painting and sculptures, artists provide a physical representation of the world from their perspective. By doing so, they engage in rhetoric which does not seek to persuade, but to express a vision.


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