Theseus and the Minotaur

I was assigned by my printmaking instructor to put together a full value sketch for our next assignment, mono-printing.

No problem, delighted to oblige.

What I find  surprising is how most of the class does not share my enthusiasm for this part of the process.

 I-phones in hand they download an image and create from such a micro source- it boggles my old weary eyes.  

I overcompensate at times and this sketch became a finished drawing.

 I’m happy about that, I have wanted to play with the Minotaur theme for quite some time.  Picasso an inspiration for subject matter if not aesthetic approach, Clive’s gorgeous horse-men also prompted me along , but most especially Blake’s incredible illustration for Dante’s Inferno.

 I love the half beast-half man being truly half beast and not just sporting a bull mask (although Picasso’s Minotaurs cannot be beat for pure erotic appeal).

detail of Theseus and the Minotaur

Theseus, described as young and handsome, was of course a delight to depict-thank goodness there aren’t many plain Greek heroes.

Theseus and the Minotaur
pencil on paper
18 by 24 inches

Detail of Theseus.

detail of the hero prince

The following was a beautiful inspiration for the awful Minotaur, an inspiration I failed to follow.

(It can be found in the Museum of Athens. It is incredible, I would love to visit the mad beast.)

When researching the Minotaur myth I found few examples of the “centaur” version as depicted so beautifully by Blake.

Although there is little stylistic similarities in my drawing to the Blake, I think with mono-printing I may be able to capture Blake’s well- studied spontaneity.  I will post the results.

I was delighted and spooked when the Minotaur theme entered popular culture. On one of our favorite television shows, Dexter , last evening’s episode featured a terrible  murderous villain obsessed with the myth. It was a truly frightening. 

Well  ,back to work,

until next time,


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

11 thoughts on “Theseus and the Minotaur”

  1. I don’t know if you spent a few summers as a child or teenager reading Edith Hamilton’s Greek Myths, but I did and the legend of the Minotaur was always one of my favorites. It looks like you had a good time bringing it to life, even the stone looks sensual and erotic.

  2. Absolutely, many an afternoon spent with Miss Hamilton, still have the copy, dog-eared but intact. The illustration were beautiful. I also loved the more childish D’Aulaires’ edition, plus of course Larousse, on and on. Now my library is bursting at the seams, a happy problem to have.
    The Minotaur has been a favorite since a boyhood stumble upon Picasso’s erotic depictions of the beast. A lucky chance t glimpse naughty bits plus a lifelong appreciation of mythology.
    Thank you for commenting,

  3. oh, the cave details are amazing! i really like your beast, the fur on his hooves and the painful-looking horns. what a moment of meeting! wonderful!
    i agree about the sketches…iphones, really? i don’t think it has anything at all to do with old, tired eyes 😉

    1. You are such a delight, thank you.
      And yes, the I-phones were out in full force today. They were panicking because they actually had to paint, poor dears.

      1. i didn’t notice last time, but the shadow of that minotaur looks like he might peel off and head in the other direction–very much a “presence,” which i love. especially with that fantastic hand, i think the shadow is my new favorite part 😛

        the sculptures of ayrton are fantastic, no? that’s a fantastic discovery– i’m always so jealous of sculptors, it seems impossible to me. just making maquettes has threatened many of my valuable limbs, haha.

      2. Thanks, just revisited F.W. Murnau’s Nosfertu perhaps got a bit carried away!
        Yes the sculptures are wonderful, I tried my hand only a few times at sculpture, I am stunted in that medium, awful awful results. Ayrton’s beasts are gorgeous,a master in multiple mediums.

  4. I love the light that bathes the left side of the composition. (Is it daylight, or that handsome hero prince dazzling the eye?) You’re right about the Blake. That’s a helluva dynamic going on there. Powerful image.

    Do you know the minotaur images of Michael Ayrton? You might find them interesting. He made a set of Minotaur etchings, and a good deal of sculpture.,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bpcl=35277026&biw=1199&bih=1083&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=NcB9UOTZDrGM0wWnyIGQCg

    1. Yes, I was hoping for sunlight but princeling bedazzlement ?, I’ll take that.
      Ayrton is completely unfamiliar and completely heartbreaking. The images are terrible in the best sense of the word.Dear Lord, that poor beast. Incredible stuff, just ordered a book on his work. Thank you for thinking of me, his lifework is beautiful and very satisfying to examine.

      1. The series of engravings he made were a ‘life-cycle’ of the minotaur, and I have to say that they are indeed heartbreaking. The making of a monster. There’s one terrible image in which the beast’s mother sits holding up a mirror for her offspring to see his own monstrosity, and the blood curdles at the inhumanity. See it and weep.

        One hangs here at Ty Isaf. I’ll see if I can get a halfway decent image of it for you through the glass.

  5. Ha ha to the lazies and their i-phones! There were a few like that back when I was learning too, and I never understood it either. Maybe they are only wanting to learn so they can do editioning work for artists? I dunno…
    But I love the double-sexed minotaur waiting in his shadowy cave. Wonderful and lurid. I am sure that the i-pod people are jealous as all hell.

    I also really liked the dragon you painted in your friend’s place, from the post above. How lovely it must be to live in a place where there are painted dragons flying overhead!

    I’m off to look at the link Clive posted above, but I’m almost afraid to after his description with the mother and the mirror…

    Hope you’re enjoying the weekend!

    1. Oh the I-phone crowd is unrepentant , I haven’t a clue as to what their aspirations are , neither do they…
      Doubled-sexed? Couldn’t figure out what you meant, then i looked closely (at my own work!) and your right, double sexed! Not really intentional, but i love it, a theme to play upon.
      The link clive provided is only the beginning , Ayrton’s work is as wrenching as Clive has described.
      You will love it i’m sure.

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