Thursday, 1 March 2007

Icarus Landing - Michael Newberry

I like to repost this piece every so often: it is one of my favourites by artist Michael Newberry.


The delicacy and control are masterful, as is his 'reclamation' of two myths and -- by his choice of theme and the delicacy and control with which he has handled it -- making triumph out of tragedy.

Compare it, for example, with Herbert Draper's Lament for Icarus, and see how Michael has made of the Icarus story a triumph, a "giant step for mankind." Said author and philosopher Stephen Hicks when first seeing Icarus Landing:
"…[A]bout the Icarus painting: The colors and composition are superb. His body seems real -- the arms especially -- like he actually is in the act of alighting. And the thematic elements are so rich --reversing both the Greek and Christian messages: success following boldness rather than failure following boldness; and a quietly confident success rather than suffering and sacrifice. 
"Looking at Icarus, I had a passing thought that you did for the Icarus legend what Rand's character Richard Halley did [in making of] the Phaethon legend [a triumph]. And afterwards I was reminded of Susan's [McCloskey] which she explained how Rand was aware of the epic figures and forms from the two major traditions in western civilization, the Greco-Roman and the Judeo-Christian, as exemplified in the characters of Odysseus and Jesus, and how with her characters in Atlas Shrugged Rand both incorporated and transcended those traditions. Your Icarus does that with the substance and symbolism of the Greek Icarus and the Christian crucifixion. Incredible." [Stephen Hicks, Ph.D., Philosopher and Author of Explaining Postmodernism.]
Incredible? It sure is. I find that as you study it (especially if you open the image see it as large as you can) , your eye changes from at one moment seeing the figure just hanging by its arms, and the next gently descending in space, and under complete control.

That really is mastery in paint.

  LINK: Figurative Art at RomanticRealiam.Net 

 RELATED POSTS ON: Art, Objectivism


AngloAmerikan said...

It is a nice picture. Turning victory into defeat into victory. The picture is in no way a realistic depiction of his final second before a very terminal impact with the ground. Of course the story is a myth and the picture represents the naïve spirit of Icarus, like that of most of mankind, striving to reach the divine and in a sense almost reaching it just before being snuffed out. It’s a common theme. How many rock stars, princesses, leaders and so forth have ascended so beautifully only to be brought down almost in an instant by the harsh rays of the sun? In the picture Icarus is in the last moment of his “flight” and making the most of it, it would seem. In the blink of an eye the scene gets a lot messier but we brave humans need not dwell on that part of it. Actually Icarus here has a very nice low fat looking body which I am in the process of sculpting for myself so I have saved the picture for a reference. I may achieve this look but like Icarus it will only really be a moment of glory before gravity takes its toll. That wont stop me though.

Insolent Prick said...

Couldn't Icarus wear a pair of fucking underpants, FFS?

Peter Cresswell said...

Thanks for the comments.

I have a question for you AA: you seem to see Icarus here as plunging to earth.

Why is that?

IP: Icarus did have some wax underpants, but they melted when he went too close to the sun. ;^)

AngloAmerikan said...

I guess my understanding of the Icarus myth changes what I see in the picture. In the myth Icarus loses his feathered wings and plunges into the sea and dies. To me the picture represents the youthful, exuberant, yet somewhat foolish, spirit of Icarus. In a way it is a triumph of the human spirit to perish in such a way and be transformed into a metaphor. To me the picture celebrates that triumph and would be less powerful if you did not know that Icarus perished. Surely it’s not just simply rewriting the myth with a happy ending.

Rebel Radius said...

It is the delicate nature of the picture which really appeals to me.

However I seem to focus on one particular point and then I noticed that his fingers were longer than my focal point.

Anonymous said...

AA wrote: "Surely it’s not just simply rewriting the myth with a happy ending"

What makes you so sure it isn't? But in one way, you're right: it isn't SIMPLY a rewriting. If you've read Ayn Rand, you'd know her composer character, Richard Halley, writes a symphony called PHAETHON:

"He had changed the ancient Greek myth to his own purpose and meaning: Phaethon, the young son of Helios, the young son of Helios, who stole the father's chariot and, in ambitious audacity, attempted to drive the sun across the sky, did not perish, as he perished in the myth; in Halley's opera, Phaethon succeeded."

Or consider her use of the Prometheus myth, both in ANTHEM, and in the figure of John Galt, the "Prometheus who changed his mind." No, these are not simply rewrites, these are bold reclamations of man's spirit.