Tuesday, June 10, 2008

icarus: reading about brueghel 2

in the train of thoughts that forms this chautauqua i'm reminded of rudy rucker's book as above, so below on the life of pieter brueghel the elder, one of my favourite artists. (first post here)

i find very revealing especially what the author makes pieter say about the following painting:

pieter bruegel, the fall of icarus

pieter bruegel, the fall of icarus

according to rudy, pieter paints this picture to show that icarus types can easily be missed from society. they do not contribute essentially, life goes on as usual with or without them. supposedly pieter brueghel adheres to simplicity of life, which prompts him to paint peasant scenes and peasant village landscapes, having little admiration for highflying `false' ideals.

of course i have no way of knowing pieter brueghel's mind when he painted the above. but rudy rucker's interpretation to me seems too easy. the real bite of the painting to me - and such a bite i consider pieter to be very capable of - is that the painting also depicts the narrow view of the worldly world. the farmer doesn't look up, not because he's knowingly not interested, but because he's too engrossed in his own world to notice anything out of the ordinary. the same for the herdsman, and the other (fisher?)man. the ship sails, but does not set out a rescue party for the person who has just crashed in the accomplishment of a miraculous feat. why not? well, there's time to consider, effort...and anyway these highflyers...have themselves to blame don't they? ignoring seems a safe bet.

i think brueghel in his time was a highflyer himself. the painting has this double edge, that it depicts what society (not brueghel!) thinks of real highflyers (not the happyfacehowdoyoudo (con)temporary stars of a given period) in their own era.

to be continued.

1 comment:

De Zwijger (a.k.a. Marx Blog) said...

Bruegel is een enigma, en dit schilderij is idd mysterieus en prachtig. De boer, hij ploegde voort.