For Prompt 14, I’d like us to consider how artists are often inspired by other artists. Let’s face it; at times, our creative wells can seem pretty dry. When you want to create but your ideas don’t inspire you, why not turn to other artists?
Consider the painting below. Pieter Bruegel, the Dutch master, created his Landscape with the Fall of Icarus in about 1560, and his subject is the Greek myth of Icarus. (If you’ll remember, Icarus and his father, Daedalus, were attempting to escape Crete by flying with wings made of wax and feathers. The boy’s father warned him not to fly too close to sun, because the heat would melt the wax wings. Of course, Icarus, in a bout of hubris, ignored his father, flew too close to the sun, and fell to his death in the ocean.) Bruegel’s version of the myth is set in his contemporary times. Check it out. Can you spot Icarus?
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This painting (and others by Bruegel) inspired many artists. In the 20th century, both W.H. Auden and Williams Carlos Williams wrote poems with Bruegel’s Icarus in mind. Here they are:
Musee des Beaux Arts
About suffering they were never wrong,The old Masters: how well they understoodIts human position: how it takes placeWhile someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waitingFor the miraculous birth, there always must beChildren who did not specially want it to happen, skatingOn a pond at the edge of the wood:They never forgotThat even the dreadful martyrdom must run its courseAnyhow in a corner, some untidy spotWhere the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horseScratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns awayQuite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman mayHave heard the splash, the forsaken cry,But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shoneAs it had to on the white legs disappearing into the greenWater, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seenSomething amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus
William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963
According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring
a farmer was ploughing
the whole pageantry
of the year was
the edge of the sea
sweating in the sun
the wings’ wax
off the coast
a splash quite unnoticed
I’m amazed that both poets were looking at the same painting, but how different their poems are from each other! For Prompt 14, I’d like us all to take some time to truly observe the image below. Go beyond simply looking at the details (although they are important), and try to engage with the feeling of the image. What emotions was the artist George Tooker attempting to evoke? What is the tone? After closely observing the painting, create a poem or a story inspired by it. Don’t simply tell the reader what you see. Use Tooker’s art to inspire a piece by you. (Remember to respond to at least one peer’s piece.) Go