Wednesday, September 21, 2016

111. Styx - The Grand Illusion

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My work above is a fusion of the original album cover art design with the surrealist painting from which the cover art design was derived.

The album cover art, created by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, is an homage to a painting by René Magritte entitled "Le Blanc-Seing". wikipedia

The French title of Rene Magritt'e famous painting "Le Blanc-Seing" (literal translation: "The Blank Signature") roughly translates as "free hand"
or "free rein".

At first glance, the painting appears to be an ordinary painting of a woman on horse back riding through a forest. Yet as you look closer at the
painting you realize that something is not right. The woman and horse are impossibly interlaced with the forest.

The painting violates the law of occlusion: closer objects should visually cover up objects positioned behind them.  In the painting, the woman
on the horse should be occluded by the tree in front of her. Yet we see her image in front of the tree.

Notice the tree covering the woman's right arm.  It appears to be in front of her yet if you look at the base of the tree, you see that it is in the
distance relative  to the other trees.  Is the tree in the  distance or is it in the foreground?  Also notice the gap in the  trees at the horse's right
shoulder.  That is a gap yet Magritte treats it - empty space - like an object and moves it to the foreground.  At first we could say that Magritte
is just interlacing  the woman/horse and the trees,  but the "foreground gap"  puts an even greater surreal spin on the painting  -  what does it
mean when empty space can be treated like an object?! Is "nothing" something? It all comes down to perception.

"Le Blanc-Seing" (1965) demonstrates an occlusion illusion. The painting was one of Magritte's last works before he died in 1967.

Here is the original album cover art design.

No. 685, The Virgin All-Time Album Top 1000.

Cover art design by Alton Kelley & Stanley Mouse. Album produced by Styx. A&M 1977.

Thematically,  the concept of The Grand Illusion examines the futility of solely aspiring to fame.  According to Dennis DeYoung, it is about the
struggle to overcome self-deluding  superficiality in order to affirm one’s genuine value.  Its success launched Styx into the most successful era
of their career  with three  more  successful  albums  up to and  including their  blockbuster  Paradise Theatre  in 1981.  The band  built of the
theatrical,  pop-oriented,  and soft rock elements of this album to bring them the widespread  success that they had worked towards for years.
Excerpts from Classic Rock Review

(A) The Grand Illusion - Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) - Superstars - Come Sail Away

(B) Miss America - Man in the Wilderness - Castle Walls - The Grand Finale

"Come Sail Away" from StyxVEVO on YouTube.