Burning Issues: Fire in Art and the Social Imagination

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  In the Greek myth, Prometheus steals fire from Zeus and gives it as a gift to mankind. Fire, once possessed only by the gods, can now be used by lowly man. Like knowledge in the Garden of Eden, fire is at once essential to living and a dangerous threat to life. This dual nature of fire--that it is something that leads us to think we can command it until it rages beyond our control--has inspired many legends around the world. We are fascinated and comforted by the fire that warms us and cooks our food and frightened and horrified by the fire that destroys our home and environment. Its power is an unavoidable presence in our lives.   In Burning Issues Alan Krell reflects on fire's paradox through a highly personal examination of fascinating myths and biblical tales of fire, children's stories, newspaper reports, diaries, paintings, photography, and film. Krell specifically examines representations of fire in word and image, looking at the work of painters, including Bosch, Arcimboldo, Goya, Dalí , Miró, and Tinguely, as well as contemporary figures who use fire as a theme in their work and performance. Questions concerning the private and the public, the intimate and the invasive, the destructive and the redemptive, weave through this generously illustrated book.   A captivating history of an element we take for granted in our daily lives until it threatens us, Burning Issues celebrates the magical discovery that took place when man thought to rub two sticks together until they sparked.