Category Visual Arts

Philippe Petit’s Art of the High Wire, and the Artworks It Inspired

At root, we go to art, whatever its form, to be changed. To alter our perception, to see something new or something we have seen before in a new way, to contemplate the mysterious, the beautiful, the joyous, the awful, the searing.

The best art upends our world, shatters our assumptions, pierces our ignorance and venality. It inspires question upon question, wonder upon wonderment, and as it does so, it assaults us physically—roiling our stomachs, fluttering our hearts, goosebumping our necks, disturbing our sleep.

All art aspires to these things if it is to be worthy of its name.

In this post, I want to discuss three related works of art that in my estimation accomplish all—or at least a good deal—of the above.

1. Tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s unparalleled 138-foot traverse between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City in 1974.
2...

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Bringing Joy to “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens

THE SNOWMAN

One must have a mind of winter 
To regard the frost and the boughs 
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time 
To behold the junipers shagged with ice, 
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think 
Of any misery in the sound of the wind, 
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land 
Full of the same wind 
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow, 
And, nothing himself, beholds 
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

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The snowman in this well-known Wallace Stevens poem from 1921 presents as a rather bleak figure. As we read in the 15 meticulously crafted lines above, he’s been “cold a long time,” immobile and inert, devoid of any thought linking the winter landscape in front of him to feelings of “misery,” barrenness and other ...

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What Is “The Shape of Water?”

What is the shape of water, anyway? Liquid, right? No, wait, “liquid” isn’t a shape, it’s a quality, like “flighty” or “rambunctious” or “wildly imaginative,” isn’t it?

Or is liquid a sound, like that of rushing waters or the slurping of jello or the gurgly slip-slap of lovers deep in the rhythms of coitus mellifluous?

The beautiful sound and sight and feel of liquid’s most essential and satisfying form is everywhere in Guillermo del Toro’s current, compulsively watchable movie, “The Shape of Water.” del Toro both wrote and directed it in the kind of creative project control that gets all artists giddy with anticipation and all critics sharpening their knives to pierce the artist’s overreach.

What emerges from his fertile imagination sometimes feels as liquid and ungraspable as the water that seems to slosh everywhere but onto the theater seat one is sitting in, while it he...

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Fifth Annual Holiday Photo Gallery

I launched this blog just after Christmas five years ago with the intention of seeing where it went over the course of the next year. When that year was up, I felt moved not only to keep on going, but to compile a Holiday Photo Gallery that would highlight the work of photographers in the Flickr world who had done so much to enliven these pages and assist in exploring the themes and questions I had been posing to myself and to the readers who had joined me in this venture.

That initial Photo Gallery, meant as a one-and-done at the time, begat a second, to which I appended the word “Annual” in order to commit myself to taking a bit of time at this time-squeezed juncture of the year to pause, to marvel, to exclaim, always involuntarily, “Wow, look at that! Amazing!”

And “amazing” is what these photographs are again, in my estimation, all in their own way, just as the four previous iterations in this collec...

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Thanksgiving Eve, Sonoma Coast

 

Easy breezy bird play

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Sandpiper Happy Hour

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Crabbin’

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Going, going, almost gone…

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http://www.facebook.com/TraversingBlog

Twitter: @AndrewHidas

Thanks to the photographers! Unless otherwise stated, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing.

Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at the top of this page. See more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lizhaslam/

Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact: larry@rosefoto.com

Beach photos by Andrew Hidas, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewhidas/ 

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