The adventures of gods and heroes, both triumphant and tragic, have exerted an enduring grip on our imagination and made huge impact across Western culture, from literature to Hollywood movies, from music to advertising. These stories, characters and themes have also served as inspiration and subject matter for art throughout history.
Flying Too Close to the Sun: Myths in Art from Classical to Contemporary by Phaidon is the first major survey to reveal the ways in which these famous tales have inspired artists throughout the last 3,500 years.
Spotlighting twenty-five of the most celebrated Greek and Roman myths, this ground-breaking book considers well-known characters Icarus, Narcissus, Prometheus, Pandora, Midas, Venus and Oedipus, as well as telling the stories of Helen of Troy, Jason and Medea, Hercules, the Minotaur, the Cyclops and Odysseus. Exploring themes of love and lust, envy and rage, rejection and loss, violence and death, these compelling tales have been told and retold for millennia, mirroring aspects of the human condition that are as relevant now as when the Greeks first imagined them.
Flying Too Close to the Sun features over 200 artworks from antiquity to the present day, from painting, sculpture and etchings to photography, installation and video art. Alongside masters such as Botticelli, Caravaggio, Michelangelo and Titian, it includes some of the most prominent artists of the 21st century, such as Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Cy Twombly and Mark Wallinger. In so doing, it demonstrates how contemporary practitioners seem increasingly inspired by these ancient stories – just as artists have been for centuries.
Carefully curated into striking and thought-provoking juxtapositions of works, this stunning book unites artworks old and new, highlighting not only the myths themselves but also the development of art from antiquity to present day. Seen through the lens of classical mythology, even well known artworks are shown in a new light, gaining new vigour and relevance when seen alongside modern and contemporary art.
Flying Too Close to the Sun: Myths in Art from Classical to Contemporary is published by Phaidon. You can purchase the book at phaidon.com.