Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Flight and the Artistic Imagination

Henri Matisse, Icarus, 1947 (V&A)
It's 'last chance to see' time for the wonderful summer show, 'Flight and the Artistic Imagination' at Compton Verney in Warwickshire. Once again a relatively small, provincial museum has produced an exciting exhibition around an inspiring theme. The range of work on display is impressive, especially given all the hoop-jumping curators have to do to borrow artworks from some of our major museums.

There's an excellent overview of the exhibition by Richard Cork in the Financial Times. I love the way the show brings together mythical stories like the Fall of Icarus and modern visions of flight; it hadn't really occurred to me before that my instinctive lack of faith in the ability of a plane to remain airborne is rooted in childhood stories. Human flight, so the Icarus story suggests, is a form of hubris (ie having ambitions above your station) which the Gods are obliged to punish.

Alfred G. Buckham, Storm Centre, 1920 (Scottish NPG, copyright R & J Buckham)
I can't help thinking that Raymond Babbitt, Dustin Hoffman's character in 'Rain Man', has the right idea when he screams blue murder to avoid boarding. Then again, the career of one of the artists featured in the show, Alfred G Buckham, could persuade me otherwise. A flying ace of World War One, though armed with camera rather than machine-gun, Buckham was cruelly wounded in his ninth crash but went on to spend years taking photographs in the sky. His visionary pictures are enough to make you want to, well, sprout wings and fly away...

Hurry! The exhibition ends September 30th.

FFI: http://comptonverney.org.uk


  1. 'Storm Centre' is wonderful. Thanks for the introduction to a new artist.

  2. There's a fantastic gallery of Buckham's pictures which I'm sure you can find with a quick search - can't remember the URL offhand. I love them. Thanks for visiting!