"The Firebird is a mythic creature from Russian folklore; it was immortalized in the music of composer Igor Stravinsky in 1910. On hearing this music, Roszak said that he was inspired by the "smoldering chords that accelerate and then whip up into a terrific frenzy of sound." Like the Phoenix, the Firebird rises reborn from the fires of extinction; Roszak spoke of its "emergence out of a complete desolation…affirming life." This mythic creature becomes an allusion to the recurrence of the cycles of death and rebirth from ancient times to the post-World War II present."
Iron brazed with bronze and brass
31 x 41 x 27 inches (78.7 x 104.1 x 68.6 cm)
Collection: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection, Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman, in memory of the artist, 1982.
"It is Chinese, you know, it is a Chinese allusion. I came upon it from Stravinsky, the wonderful piece of music he has written around it, he has these slow smoldering chords that accelerate and then whip up into a terrific frenzy of sound. To me that was important, plus the fact that it has bearing on the other half of the world. It wasn't purely a local experience in even the European sense, but it embodied a kind of ritualistic experience that found its habitat in practically any part of the world that has lived long enough to go through this smoldering and phoenix-like emergence out of a complete desolation and affirming its position all over again in terms of affirming life."
[Theodore Roszak interview with Elliott, 1956, p. 20]
Study for "Firebird", 1950
Pen, brush and ink, watercolor, and pencil on paper
28 7/8 x 35 in (73.3 x 88.9 cm)
Collection: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection, Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman, in memory of the artist (1982).
Four Studies for "Firebird", 1949
Black ink on wove paper
14 3/4 x 20 inches (37.5 x 50.8 cm)
Collection: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Hartford, CT. Gift of Belle K. Ribicoff (1991).
Collection: Chazen Museum of Art. Madison, Wisconsin. Terese and Alvin S. Lane Collection (2012).
Firebird Study, 1949
Ink on paper
14 1/2 x 11 3/8 in (36.83 x 28.89 cm)
Collection: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California. Gift of the Estate of Theodore Roszak (2005).