If Only All Works of Art Could Be Explained Like This

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I. Don’t. Get. Art.

I’ve written about my childhood and adult experiences with art, none of them good. I’ve also written about how Morley Safer also claims that he “didn’t get art.”

So imagine my surprise when I came across this YouTube video that explained the meaning behind a relatively famous work of art from the 1500s, and I actually found it quite fascinating.

The painting, shown above, is known as Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, allegedly created by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. There is some doubt as to who may have painted the final version of the work of art, but that is not relevant to this discussion.

Here is the video, and the person narrating notes that the work of art was meant to help us realize that most people are concerned with their own problems, and don’t really notice when we might have problems of our own. The basic takeaway then, according to this interpretation, is to not be concerned with what others think about us since no one is thinking about us anyway.

This is an example of a work of art that I would have looked at, been impressed by how good the artist was at drawing people and scenes but would have never caught the underlying meaning. I probably would not have even noticed poor Icarus in the water – right in line with what the narrator claims!

I was also fascinated by the fact that a famous proverb is incorporated into the drawing, “And the farmer continued to plough…”

So there’s a lot going on in this picture, and I’ll admit it feels kind of good to know what the artist was trying to say.

Given how much I enjoyed this video, I may start to look for more of these types of videos that explain famous works of art, it would be a way of feeling a bit more cultured. If I find enough of them, it could become a regular feature on the blog.

By the way, one of the best book I have read in the past 20 years was “The Icarus Deception” by Seth Godin. Godin notes that while everyone is familiar with Icarus’s father’s warning to not fly too close to the sun because his wings would melt, not everyone is aware that he was also warned to not fly too close to the water because the seawater would ruin the lift in the wings. Godin uses the story as a warning not to play it too safe because that can be as dangerous as taking on too much risk.

Thank you to the School of Life in London for putting this video together.

*image from Wikipedia



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