Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Icarus Daedulus Canova

Image of a sunset on a Beach in Niedersachsen, Germany.
Dear Gentle Reader,

The most beautiful sculpture in the Museo Correr, Venice, is a sculpture of Icarus and Daedulus by the Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822).

Canova renders, possibly, the most beautiful flesh in marble. 

His sculptures, like Henry Moore's, beckon to be caressed.

In the sculptural composition of Icarus and Daedulus, Canova captures the expressions on Icarus' and Daedulus' faces, as Daedulus finishes sewing the wings onto Icarus' arms, in preparation for their joint flight to freedom which will end in wet tragedy for them both.

Daedulus' tragic face will long be wet with tears. 

Daedulus will grieve Icarus, his son, who will not heed the warnings and will fly too close to the sun, melting the wax that keeps his feathers in place. 

Icarus, tragically, will plummet from the sky to his watery death in the sea.

In the sculpture, Canova catches the fear and the foreknowledge of doom and despair in Daedulus' eyes. 

Simultaneously, Canova catches the rebellious impudence of youth in Icarus' face, too.

Yes, yes, yes father. 

"Remember, don't fly too high." 

Yes, yes, yes father.
I won't.
Yes, yes, yes father. 
I know.

Daedulus, the master builder who crafted the Labyrinth holding the Minotaur, knows he cannot live in exile on the isle of Crete. 

Daedulus must escape, and he must bring his son.

The tragedy is that, as a father, Daedulus well knows his son's weaknesses and failings. 

Daedulus knows that his son's impetuousness foreordains his son's death. 

Yet Daedulus continues building the wings and attaching them, hoping against his inner knowledge. What else can he do?

The heavy stone in his gut, the catch in his throat, and the swallowed, invisible fear are all visible in light lines around Daedulus' eyes and face.

If this sculpture does not move you, then I wonder what injustice forced on man would move you.

Your humble scribe has no image for this sculpture; it is impermissible to take them in the Museum Correr. 

That said, if you do a google image search with this post's title you will find images taken surreptitiously; but none of them do Canova's brilliance justice. 

They are too pale or too shadowed or too stark. I suppose they might be considered better than nothing if you do not have an historical art book handy.

But, those images I have pointed the way towards are just not adequate, as is, and they are not mine to fix. 

The only thing that is mine to fix is the world I live in.

What do you fix?



Cloudia said...

Fixing the world? We both got that memo today, it seems.
I love your fine words better than a poor photo (or even a good one)
Faces, ah faces. We need them so much that we find them everywhere.
I wrote an entire novella about the power of smiles . . . . aloha-

Sepiru Chris said...


Lorie over at Patchwork Quilt made that same observation, on faces, over here

It's quick; take a boo! I think you'd like it!


Junosmom said...

Well, I should be fixing dinner - it's 5:45 p.m. here - but I don't think that you were looking for that.

I have long believed one cannot "fix" the world or another being, only one's reaction to them.

I have found similarly, it is difficult to capture art on film because it only captures the image, and not the emotion you feel.

Sepiru Chris said...

Hi Junosmom,

Well, if you take any actions regarding one's reaction, then you are fixing the world, one tiny bit at a time. If your reaction to waste is to waste less yourself, then your actions, when aggregated with those of others, may have a substantial impact.

One could argue that the old CARE ads on TV (back when I last owned a TV) for starving children in Asia aimed to make a difference by provoking a reaction in viewers. Presumably they worked, because they certainly played a lot.


bindu said...

I wonder what got you thinking about these sculptures this day. There is so much I'd like to fix ... it's overwhelming. I'd start with protecting animals though, pets and wild ones, from human stupidity and greed.

Sepiru Chris said...

Hi Bindu,

I don't know. They made a profound impact on me when I was at the museum, and they haven't really left me. Maybe the sun on the water in the morning made me flash onto Icarus and then back to Daedulus and Canova...


Barbara Martin said...

The world can be fixed if everyone takes responsibility, but unfortunately there seem to be too many lackards.