Here’s another print from the etching class I took this spring at Cabrillo College. It’s called Icarus Over the Boardwalk.
Icarus was the son of Daedalus, a gifted Athenian craftsman and inventor of the labyrinth used to imprison the Minotaur. Daedalus himself was imprisoned on Crete by King Minos after Daedalus gave Ariadne a clew (ball of thread) which she in turn gave to Theseus, who then defeated the Minotaur. Ever the visionary and inventor, Daedalus fashioned wings from wax and feathers, with which he planned to fly, with Icarus, from Crete to freedom.
The one catch was that the wings were held together with wax; fly too close to the sun, and the wax would melt, and whoever so erred would plummet into the sea. Daedalus took care to warn his son.
Icarus, thrilled with the freedom and joy of flight, forgot all about his father’s warning, and soared up close into the sun’s rays. The heat melted the wax, the feathers loosened, and Icarus, as warned, fell to his death.
On some nights, if the wind is right, I can hear the trundle of rollercoaster wheels and screams of terror and delight from the Santa Cruz boardwalk. It’s a fantasy world in its own right, and in the evening, when its carnival lights come on, attracts lost souls of all sorts to its orbit. Why not Icarus?
This print is an etching with aquatint. It was actually a test plate, with each of the rays coming from Icarus etched for a different length of time. This version was burnished to soften the edges between the timed rays, and has a second color selectively applied.
The myth of Icarus has been a popular theme for artists for ages. Here is Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (ca. 1558) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Icarus is on the lower right, his legs splashing in the water, evoking the Flemish proverb: ‘No plough stops because a man dies.’
The very different Daedalus and Icarus (ca. 1869) by Frederick, Lord Leighton.
And the very excellent print, Icarus by Hendrik Goltzius.
I was not familiar with this print, but my Icarus seems to be a combination of this one and the small figure of Daedalus flying in the background.
In fact, there’s an entire website dedicated to images of Icarus in art.
And of course, there’s always Iron Maiden.
You can see Icarus Over the Boardwalk, and a whole lot of other prints and paintings, at my current solo show at Creative Framing & Gallery in Oakland.
The reception is at the end of the show, Saturday, August 28, 6:00 – 8:00pm. Please join us if you can!