Guy Le Perse

Icarus – Bronze sculpture

Guy Le Perse


Date : c. XXI

Dimensions : H : 74 cm ; L : 37,5 cm ; P : 39,8 cm

Material : Bronze with patina

Conditions & disponibilité: Original work produced in 8 numbered and signed editions plus 4 artist's proofs. A certificate of authenticity signed by the artist is provided to the purchaser .


of work

Bronze statue of Icarus falling into the sea

In this work, sculptor Guy Le Perse presents us with Icarus, a young nude man plunging into the waves. On a base representing the sea that will bear his name, we see Icarus at the exact moment his inert, spiraling body meets the waves. The vertiginous and violent fall suffered by Daedalus’ son seems to have rendered him unconscious before he even hits the sea.

The tragic fate of Icarus, recounted by numerous ancient authors, tells the story of Daedalus’ brilliant yet ill-fated son. Daedalus, an Athenian architect and engineer, served King Minos after seeking refuge in Crete for murdering his nephew Talos. Talos, surpassing his master Daedalus in ingenuity, invented the saw and compass. Consumed by jealousy, Daedalus hurled him from the Acropolis. In Crete, Daedalus rendered several services to King Minos and his wife Pasiphaë, leading to a chain of tragic events beloved by Greek mythology.

Minos, having refused to sacrifice a magnificent white bull to Poseidon, the god of the sea, was punished. Poseidon enchanted Pasiphaë, making her fall in love with the bull. Driven by desire, Pasiphaë asked Daedalus to construct a wooden cow in which she could hide and mate with the bull. From this union was born the Minotaur, a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull. Humiliated, Minos ordered Daedalus to design a prison to conceal this abomination. The ingenious architect created the Labyrinth.

For aiding Theseus, through Ariadne, in escaping the Labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur, Daedalus was condemned by King Minos to be imprisoned with his son Icarus in the very Labyrinth he had designed.

To escape the Labyrinth with his son, the ingenious Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings made from wax and feathers. Before taking flight from the labyrinth’s walls, he cautioned his son not to fly too close to the sea, lest his wings become heavy with moisture, nor too close to the sun, lest the wax melt. Sadly, intoxicated by the power of flight, Icarus soared too near the sun, causing the wax in his wings to melt. Unable to continue his flight, Icarus plummeted into the sea and perished.

Some versions of the myth suggest that after burying his son, a bird landed on Icarus’ grave—Talos, Daedalus’ nephew, transformed by the goddess Athena to remind Daedalus of his crime and punishment. The tragic fate of Icarus serves as a reminder of the cost of hubris; Icarus burned his wings by attempting to reach the sun.

However, hubris also manifests in Daedalus, who responded to divine punishment with cunning and skill. Daedalus, the murderer, repeatedly defied divine commands and ultimately paid in the most terrible manner. The sin of the father can be paid for by the son, and the errors of one generation borne by the next. This is what Guy Le Perse’s sculpture illustrates: with his hand still emerging from the water, Icarus points to the true culprit above, still soaring in the sky.

Related work by Guy Le Perse: “The Prodigal Son”.

Gravure Eau-forte et aquatinte représentant Dédale et son fils Icare s'échappant du Labyrinthe.
Dédale et Icare - Gravure Eau-forte et aquatinte - par A.G.L Desnoyer d'après C.P Landon

"La cire avait fondu ; Icare secoua ses bras dépouillés et, privé de ses ailes pour ramer, il n'eut plus prise sur l'air, puis sa bouche qui criait le nom de son père fut engloutie dans la mer azurée, qui tira de lui son nom." Ovide - Les Métamorphoses Livre VIII, 230

Guy le Perse : portrait de l'artiste Guy le Perse en train de modeler une sculpture

Guy Le Perse

Roubaix (France) 1953

The sculptor Guy Le Perse was trained at the École nationale supérieure des arts et industries textiles de Roubaix and the École des beaux-arts de Douai. He studied under the sculptor Armand Debeve, serving as his model for some works, and the painter and engraver Auguste-Jean Gaudin. From these masters, he developed a high level of personal rigor in mastering technique and creating his art.

A versatile and expert artist, proficient in engraving and painting, Guy Le Perse worked for many prestigious clients over the years. While practicing sculpture as a personal and secret philosophy, he also taught at applied arts and fine arts schools in northern France.

Shortly before 2000, Guy Le Perse decided to devote himself primarily to sculpture. His powerful and profound figurative works continue the grand tradition of French statuary, one of the richest and most beautiful in the world.

Through his work, Guy Le Perse perpetuates the excellence of French sculpture, which illustrious artists like Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and Auguste Rodin elevated to its rightful place at the pinnacle of art.

Drawing from the foundations and mysteries of the human soul elucidated by great myths and foundational texts, Guy Le Perse has crafted a timeless oeuvre of immense beauty, combining strength and delicacy. Fiercely independent throughout his professional life, he remains so with his art. Guy Le Perse’s sculptures are not influenced by trends; they are eternal. Uncompromising with contemporary times, his works speak of human tragedy to both past and future generations.

A perfectionist, Guy Le Perse personally oversees the entire creation process of his bronzes, except for the casting. He meticulously masters modeling from life, chiseling, and patination, ensuring every detail of his sculptures is perfect.

the work

in its context

This work can be paralleled with another sculpture by Guy Le Perse, with which it creates a dialogue: “The Prodigal Son.”

Nearly identical save for a few details, they are inverse reflections of each other. The dynamism of this piece is clearly seen in Guy Le Perse’s sketch of the falling Icarus.

With sensitivity and insight, Le Perse allows these two subjects to converse, uniting them in a profound contemplation on fatherhood and responsibility.

The Illusion, Icarus daughter by Auguste Rodin. Appeared in the book L'Art, entretiens réunis par Paul Gsell, Grasset, 1911. page 211

Indeed, these two works respond to each other, prompting us to reflect on the theme of fatherhood, its risks, and obligations. They also explore the responsibility of the father towards the son and vice versa. “The Prodigal Son” and “Icarus” are two powerful works inspired by radically different worldviews. One, rooted in Greek mythology, speaks universally to all men. The other, from Christian Revelation, reminds us of a law inscribed in each person’s heart.

Related work: “The Prodigal Son.”

The prodigal son - bronze sculpture - Guy Le Perse


Exposition – Guy Le Perse – Paris, Hôtel George V – 01/06/2003 – 30/06/2003

Exposition – Guy Le Perse – Lambersart, Le Colysée  – 11/11/2005 – 08/01/2006

Exposition – Art-Up ! – Lille, Grand Palais  – 28/02/2019 – 03/03/2019

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