Logicomix invites readers to familiarise themselves with emblematic works of art. Readers are invited to look at famous paintings and sculptures of the past as well as literary works and think about how they are used in new forms of art, such as the graphic novel, in a new context and with a new meaning. Students can do detective work in trying to recognise sources and influences in order to approach the complex relations among genres and/or among art, and discover the meaning absorbed and transformed in the network of the intertextual space.
It is noteworthy that in the first frame of the first page and first chapter of Logicomix, immediately after the introduction, we see the Thinker (1902) of Auguste Rodin. The invitation to readers is to search the history and meaning of this sculpture and try to associate it with the aspect of Logicomix's story which has to do with human thinking and understanding. This globally recognised image encourages further research on this work of art and thinking about its new meaning earned by this new contextualisation.
When young Bertrand Russell suffers from nightmares after the death of his grandfather in 1879, just before the emergence of Expressionism in art, he is shown between frightening creatures in Baroque style (50, figure 6), while his face and body posture imitates the frenzied, screaming and ossified Expressionist figure of Scream (1893) of Edvard Munch (50). A few pages later, Bertrand has come of age and settled important life decisions. The didacticism and terror of the Baroque as well as the Expressionistic exteriorisation of a troubled inner world are replaced with a romantic mood (54). Lyrics of Shelley (83-85) are cited and in parallel a full-paged panel derives from the romanticism of Casper David Friedrich showing Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818) (85). When Russell visits with Alfred North Whitehead, the retrospective exhibition of the Pre-Rafaelites, the mythological Danaides of John William Waterhouse serve as a pretext for Russell to make a decision (187-8). The analogy is clear. The Danaides were condemned by the gods to endlessly throw water in a leaking jar. Russell has continuously postponed the publication of Principia Mathematica (the three-volume work on the foundation of mathematics written by Russell and Alfred North Whitehead). Munch's Scream is back when Russell is going through a crisis of pessimism, but this time his emotional situation is clearly designed and based on Munch's model; the work is now completed by the Norwegian artist and Russell can dream by the terms and the pictorial representation of Munch (234). The Ready-Mades of Marcel Duchamp, such as The Fountain (1917) (266) and Black Square (1915) (267) of Kazimir Malevich, together with the nonsense of the Dadaist Theatre (267) are used as pretext for Russell to realise the values of the old world and the positivistic illusion can no longer express the man of the 1920-1930 war.
Source: Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom: Essays on the Educational Power of Sequential Art edited by Carrye Kay Syma and Robert G. Weiner.
Le Penseur in the Musée Rodin in Paris (Wikipedia)
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. Casper David Friedrich (Wikipedia)
Munch: The Scream. (Norwegian: Skrik; German: Der Schrei der Natur)
The Danaides (1903), a Pre-Raphaelite interpretation by John William Waterhouse (Wikipedia)
Read about the Daughters of Danaus or Danaides in Wikipedia.