Friday, November 14, 2008



Andrew Wyeth called this painting "Marsh Hawk."

Having trouble finding the marsh hawk? Why, here it is way over at the edge, sitting on a post:

Harold von Schmidt painted this wonderful painting of revolutionary war hero William Dawes. Can't see him? If you are lucky, you might catch a fleeting glimpse of his butt.

This is Brueghel's painting of the fall of Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun. But Icarus is not exactly hogging the spotlight.

Here are his legs, way down here:

The literary critic Marvin Mudrick once said,
If you're ever tempted to write a story called "The Secret of the Universe" or "Man's Inhumanity to Man," do yourself a favor and call it "Fred" instead.
For today's post, I was tempted to expound at length on the importance of avoiding obviousness in art.

But I think I won't.


Jack Ruttan said...

There's a famous W.D. Auden poem about the Breughel painting of Icarus. I'll let people find that for themselves.

Does "Where's Waldo" count?

David Apatoff said...

Jack: "About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters..."

I suppose I would view Waldo as more "obfuscatory" than "oblique," but you could have a point.

Anonymous said...

I get it! You're not being obvious, just like these paintings. cute.

Anonymous said...

Not to get too far off topic, but I always found the art in the Where's Waldo series to be as engaging and alive as anything else - whomever illustrated them(don't have one on-hand to check) did a great job of creating very close likenesses of social interaction and human characteristics. That is, there are very, very few figures which appear stiff or out of place in the books.

Li-An said...

Your best post ?

Jack Ruttan said...

Obvously, the Waldo illustrator was inspired by Altdorfer, and that kind of thing.

Keeping the high tone of this blog, I liked seeing a complicated painting by Durer (those kings and nobles liked those elaborate pictures of their triumphs!), and finding the figure of the artist looking directly at me, the viewer, from the lower right-hand corner. Like we were sharing a joke across the centuries.

ces said...

Stephan Martiniere was the Where's Waldo artist for I don't know how many years.

David Apatoff said...

Jack, I like those moments where the artist looks out at the viewer. Norman Rockwell has some nice examples.

David Apatoff said...

Thank you, li-an. I love these pictures and ideas so much, I have to resist the temptation to prattle on too long, belaboring the obvious. A post should rise on its own, as light as a souffle. Mine tend to sink like a stone under the weight of too much prose.

On those rare occasions when I exercise restraint, I am always intrigued by how readers fill in the blanks. For example, I never thought that Brueghel would end up with "Where's Waldo?"

RAWLS said...

Hey David... great blog you've got going here. You have a great eye for details and art. Keep up the good work!!

John Hendrix said...

Great post... thanks again for the blog David.

Shayla said...

Heh, heh. Great post

David Apatoff said...

Rawls, thank you-- I hope you will jump in.

John, it's always good to hear from you. I continue to be a big fan of your work, and visit your great web site regularly.

Shayla-- heh heh right back at you.