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Icarus Fallen by Andrew Denman
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"Study for 'Fallen'"
10 x 15" Mixed Media on Watercolor Board

Icarus Fallen

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The Icarus myth has always held a special place in my heart. There is something very poignant about the story of a young man trapped in a tower, aching to be free, who, under his father’s guidance, escapes with a pair of wings crafted from wax and feathers. When he finally gets his chance at freedom, his over-soaring ambition is his undoing; he flies too high, the heat of the sun melts the wax from his wings, and he falls to his death.

Several years ago I constructed a pair of full scale, highly articulated wings, hired a model to wear them, and photographed him to record light and shadow. I used those photos as references for a series of elaborate drawings, “Icarus In Ovo,” “Icarus Defiant,” and “Icarus Fallen.” I had the hardest time deciding what pose to use for “Icarus Fallen,” arguably the most important and the most ambitious of the series, and the one for which I had the most, and most compelling, options. This study is based on one of the studies I did not use for that drawing series, but differs form the previous Icarus incarnations in being mixed media, and in full color. Ever since that first series, I have thought about doing a very large scale (six feet or more) Icarus painting. Perhaps this small but heartfelt study will inspire me to finally take the plunge.

It’s worth noting that most depictions of Icarus (and there are many historical examples) show his wings as they are described in the story, as clunky, inelegant assemblages of wood, wax, and feathers. I chose to take a different tact and paint them as dramatically oversized bird wings that seem organically connected to the figure’s body. Given this decision, it is understandable that more than one person has interpreted my Icarus as an Angel, at least until they read the title. It is a testament to the potency of the myth itself that this evocative image of a young man with wings is, in fact, so reminiscent of a fallen Angel. If the young man prostrate with arms in the shape of a cross (especially an inverted one) brings to mind the expulsion of Lucifer form Heaven, who am I to argue? It’s also worth noting that the model for the piece was a young gay man, and I am, of course, a gay artist, so allusions to famous stage play and its screen adaptations, "Angels in America," would also not be misplaced.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California –based, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
All artwork and text featured on this page and throughout this website is protected by international copyright laws. Use of these images or text is prohibited without the express written permission of Andrew Denman.