How to Look at Painting: Icarus, Daedulus and Science

We are posting an excerpt from an interesting article published in the Fidelio Magazine, Spring-Summer of 2006. The link to the complete article is provided at the end of the excerpt.

‘Bruegel painted many things that cannot be painted. As Pliny said of Apelles: In all his works, there is always more thought than paint.’

—Abraham Ortelius, the great geographer and friend of Bruegel, in his Album amicorum (1574-1598)


Let us take the time to look at Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.

From the beginning, what may surprise us is that we must search carefully before finding Icarus, although he is the principal character of the work. It’s as if he were “drowning,” one might say, in the painting. Although all the other representations of
this myth, without exception, make this story the visual center of their works, in showing the falling Icarus, Bruegel decided, on the contrary, not to use this spectacular image. Rather than grieving over the tragic fate of Icarus, the artist wants us to interest ourselves in other things.
So, what is it we do see?

Click on the following link to read the complete article


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