Intentionalism and the Arts


A basic introduction to Intentism

  1. What is Intentism?

    Intentism is an international art movement. The name Intentism is a response to the debate around authorial intent. Intentism maintains that the meaning of the work is the outworking of intention.

    Intentists believe that art can convey an artist's intended message to his or her intended audience. As a movement it both recognizes and celebrates the relationship between an artist's creation and its creator.

    Intentists believe three principles:


    1. Intentists believe that the artist is free to convey his or her intended message. The meaning of the work is found in the artist's intention and not the interpretation of the viewer.All meaning is simply the imperfect outworking of intention.[11]

    2. Intentists believe a confused, hidden or denied intention leads to zero accountability.

    3. Intentists believe that an omission of artist intention can lead to enforced restrictions on the artist and even censorship.

  2. Who are Intentists?

    Intentists come from a variety of backgrounds but are all questioning ideas related to the meaning of work. Intentists subscribe to the Intentist Manifesto. Intentists include artists, writers, actors, musicians and philosophers from Europe, North and South America to Asia.

  3. What is Intentist Art?

    There is a variety of ways that Intentists approach art, but at present there appears to be three areas that are of particular interest.

    1. Intentists often celebrate the artist's intentions in the work by including elements of the creative process in the final piece. Consequently, visual clues of multiple editing decisions are left in. Intentists call this process Palimpsestism and the Intentional Trail.

    2. Since authorial irony can only be understood by comparing what is said (the work), and what is meant (author intent), it is a common subject for Intentist artists. An example here would be Luciano Pelosi’s Big Breakfast.

    3. A significant proportion of art theory finds its origin in Literary theory. It is a claim of the Intentists that in certain fundamental areas this cross over is not valid. In literature the author has a linear order expectation for the text since the viewer will normally start at the beginning and read letters sequentially until the end. However, this approach is not appropriate for the static arts. Most paintings and sculptures are anarrative as viewers can approach the work in multiple orders. Therefore, this basis for ignoring the artist’s intentions is not relevant. An example of an Intentist artist creating work to demonstrate these anarrative properties is Govinda Sah.

  4. Do I have to be an Intentist to join the website?

    Becoming a member of the website is for anyone interested in the subject of authorial intent. Subscription to the Intentist manifesto is not necessary.

  5. How do I join the movement?

    If you subscribe to the manifesto and are interested in becoming involved, please contact us either through the contact tab or at

  6. How do I get answers to questions that are not in the FAQ?

    We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Please contact us either through the contaact tab on this site or at

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