DEAD BIRDS   (Pantherpro Webdesign)



deadbirds banner










dead swan from Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev
dead swan from Andrei Tarkovsky's film, Andrei Rublev (1966)


The Dying Swan 1916
The Dying Swan (1916) silent Russian film by Yevgeni Bauer


Death of a Blackbird
• with regards to G.A. Scatt
© Syborgh (Fried van Bijnen)
More at "My Backyard"


Young blackbird • dedicated to Scattergood-Moore • by Fried van Bijnen

press image to enlarge

blue tit
Dead Blue Tit (cyanoses caeruleus) by Fried van Bijnen


"Studies of a Dead Thrush"  (1902)
watercolor and pen and ink drawing
Beatrix Potter (1886-1943)
Art and Anatomy Blog



bird by Patrick Swift
Bird, Dublin, 1951, pen and ink by Patrick Swift



source Rose Burlingham   (mp3)

This Little Bird
Marianne Faithfull
        There's a little bird that somebody sends
        Down to the earth to live on the wind.
        Borne on the wind and he sleeps on the wind
        This little bird that somebody sends.

        He's light and fragile and feathered sky blue,
        So thin and graceful the sun shines through.
        This little bird who lives on the wind,
        This little bird that somebody sends.

        He flies so high up in the sky
        Out of reach of human eye.
        And the only time that he touches the ground
        Is when that little bird
        Is when that little bird
        Is when that little bird dies.   (mp3) •






Nicole Peyrafitte singing stanzas from Robert Kelly
Lutz Rath plays Schwitters' Ursonate
Pierre Menard Gallery, Cambridge MA   (2010)

Struggling Bird   (2010)
photograph (Silver Halide Print)

Collection of Scattergood-Moore


Oil Spilled Bird II   (2010)
mixed media on canvas
Collection of Scattergood-Moore


      "The exhibition "Imagine It Thick In Your Own Hair" includes paintings, sculptures and artist books by artist, curator Heide Hatry. Some of the work in the current exhibition includes actual animals such as birds, opossums, rats and mice.
      Using road kill and found animal corpses, Hatry creates scenes suggestive of what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico today. Her pigments are actual oil and tar and other 'organic' materials that are the substance of the disaster. Life is a circle. Even the repugnant oil that is responsible for destroying life and land was once living animals and plants itself.
      The show is intended to evoke the tragedy being visited upon earth and sea that is choking its life from it right now and to motivate people to help. It is difficult to not look away when you see an actual animal suffering, and Hatry wants, as she always does in her work, to demand awareness by putting the harsh truth directly in front of the viewer, unmitigated by distance.
      Hatry has created several unique artist's books for the current exhibition in conjunction with poet Robert Kelly, whose poem, "Imagine it Thick in your own Hair", provides the show's title and with poet Franz Wright."

Artists bite backHeide Hatry
Death of the Patriarchy
Boston Herald
Female Persuasion



from Illuminatioon: A Bestiary (1986)
Cabinet of Wonders | Quigley's Cabinet





Captain Cook's Mamo
collected ca.1778

Carolina parakeet
(book cover)

both images above are from: "The Rarest of the Rare"
Stories Behind the Treasures of The Harvard Museum of Natural History





The UK Guild of Taxidermists





Gothic Illuminated Sketchbook


Louis Agassiz Fuertes
Study of extinct Cuban Macaw
Julie Zickefoose on Blogspot


Artists Sketchbooks Online





"Dodos became extinct in Mauritius during the 1680s, only 80 years after man discovered the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Although sailors may have eaten many of the birds, which have been described as having been somewhat larger than a turkey and with a large hooked bill, they are believed to have become extinct because of introduced predators (pigs, for example) and habitat destruction by people. Now we have the expression 'dead as a dodo'." - Dodo (Portuguese for 'stupid')

'Dronte' is a Dutch word for Dodo and this previously unknown sketch from the mid-1600s of the famous extinct bird was sold at Christie's for 44lbs. (enlarge image)




Who Killed Cock Robin?

Courtship, and Marriage,
with the
Poor Cock Robin

Embellished with numerous coloured Engravings.

Author: Anonymous


And Robin, by a wicked Sparrow,
Was shot dead with bow and arrow!

The Birds of the air fell to sighing and sobbing,
When they heard the sad fate of poor Cock Robin.

These Wrens so small,
Bore poor Cock Robin's pall

All the birds in the air
Fell to sighing and sobbing,
When They heard the bell toll
For poor Cock Robin:

And vow'd that the Sparrow,
Who his life took away,
Should be tried for the murder
The very next day.





The Song of the Birds (1935)

The Fleischer Studios



Dead Oriole, oil painting by Scattergood-Moore



Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543)
"The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb" (1521)

oil and tempera on limewood
Offentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel

Dead Oriole on Shelf, oil painting by Scattergood-Moore



errie_forest.mp3   by   gregswinford



Dead Bird by 'lentil' on deviantART




1   |   2   |   3   |   4   |   5   |   6

National Digital Library of Poland



Where do all the dead birds go?

Where do all the dead birds go? There are thousands upon thousands of birds all around us, in the city no less than in the countryside. Why don't we see any dead ones?

. . . The answer is alluded to in Perek Shirah (literally "A Chapter Of Song") - an ancient text that takes the form of a list of eighty-four elements of the natural world, including elements of the sky and of the earth, plants, birds, animals, and insects, attaching a verse from the Torah to each. The concept behind Perek Shirah is that everything in the natural world teaches us a lesson in philosophy or ethics, and the verse gives a clue as to what that lesson is.

Nature's Song is the first English explanation of Perek Shirah - making use of rare ancient commentaries on Perek Shirah, as well as contemporary insights from the fields of meteorology, zoology and so on.

The bird says: "I lift my eyes up to the hills: from where does my help come?"

(Psalm 121:1)

The cat says: "Even should you rise as high as eagles, place your nest among the stars, even from there I'll pluck you down, declares The Cunning One."

(Obadiah 1:4)



CYGNUS. In the Zodiac of Denderah, Tes—ark = this from afar. A mighty bird, not falling dead like Aquila. Brightest star Deneb = the Judge; called also Adige = flying swiftly. The second, Al Bireo = flying quickly. Two others: Azel = who goes and returns quickly, and Fafage = gloriously shining forth.

QUILA, the eagle, pierced and wounded and falling. The brightest star, Al tair = wounding. All the others are similar.


from "The Tree of Life"

"In the medieval tradition, the female pelican was thought to accidentally kill her young by striking them, mourning them for three days before piercing her body and letting her blood spill over the dead chicks, thus reviving them. The bird became linked in learned and popular imagination with Christ, who was assaulted by his people, then was pierced and bled to save them." - The Tree of Life - Beinecke Library, Yale University


Albert Pinkham Ryder Dead Bird, Phillips Collection, Washington DC

Dead Bird, by Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847-1917), was first seen by Duncan Phillips no later than 1916 but was not purchased for The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, until it became available a decade later. Dead Bird is "one of Ryder's most powerful images," exploring a recurrent illusory theme: the coexistence of the corporeal and the ethereal, and that such starkly realistic details as the rigidly curled claws, rendered in heavy impasto, and the subtle textured contrasts of plumage and beak, create a moving evocation of suffering and death."



Kim Hoa Tram (Chinese, b. 1959)

ink and watercolor on paper
Read from right to left:
  Young bird crying
  Adolescent bird screaming
  Adult bird looking
 Enlightened bird sitting
source: The art of Zen

The Awakening is a highly powerful and original work by Kim Hoa Tram. It deals with the Buddhist concept of spiritual awakening to the impermanence of life, and death itself.

A living bird and a dead bird are repeated in a sequence as the narrative unfolds in four panels that are read from right to left. It progresses upward in crescendo from a baby bird crying helplessly beside a dead bird; a young bird shouting or screaming in shock; an older bird staring at the dead bird, as if coming to some kind of realization. Finally in the last panel, the wise old bird is perched on a branch near the top of the painting, with an enigmatic expression of acceptance.

The silence that is conveyed by the void in the fourth panel is as emotionally intense as the scream in the second panel. The bird has been used as a vehicle to express human emotions in the confrontation of 'death'. The images express what is beyond words."

"The ideas of Zen painting and calligraphy have been in my thoughts since I began studying the art of Chinese painting in 1986. I have been seeking different ways to express my inner thoughts in my work for many years. As my understanding of Buddihist philosophy and practice has grown, I have blended these harmoniously with my painting skills. This has helped me over the years to create a new style of Zen painting. My new style consists of using Chiinese black ink with simple brushstrokes to express my innermost thoughts and experience of Zen and life." - Kim Hoa TRAM, 2005

"Finding the Path is a spiritual journey to enlightenment. In this exhibition, KIn has explored the human condition: birth, old age, sickness and death, delusion, impermanence and meditation as a way to spiritual enlightenment. . ." - Dr. Mae Anna LPANG, Senior Curator of Asian Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2005

La Corrupcion de un Angel de Yukio Mishima
The art of Zen from the Asian collection
   The Art of Zen education resource
Official Opening of an Exhibition of Zen Painting
NGV > School Resource > Kim Hoa Tram
Flickr - photosharing
Life in the Stages of Birth, Old Age, Sickness, Death


The History of Phoenix Art

The mythology of the phoenix probably originated in India, where the immortal bird is called Garuda. The Garuda has the body of a crowned man with wings and an eagle's beak. [Thai Garuda | Garuda flying with the fighting elephant and tortoise | Garuda Sculpture]

The ancient Egyptians had another name for the phoenix: Bennu, aka "He who came into being by himself". The myth goes that the bird created itself from a burning holy tree. The Bennu is supposed to be the soul of the Egyptian Sun God called Ra. The Egyptian phoenix looked like a heron.

The Greeks called the Bennu bird Phoenix, the Greek word for crimson, a red color with a little bit of purple. The Greek phoenix looked like an eagle and is a symbol for the sun, who dies in flames at the end of the day and rises again in the morning.

In early Catholic art, literature and Catholic symbolism, the Phoenix is a symbol of Christ, representing his resurrection, immortality, and life-after-death.

Nine-Headed Phoenix

"This Qing-dynasty (1644-1911) print shows the nine-headed phoenix, a being from Chinese mythology with a bird's body and nine heads with human faces. It is one of several hybrid creatures mentioned in the Classic of Mountains and Seas (Shanhai jing), where it is said to dwell in the Great Wilds to the North at the mountain called Celestial-Coffer-at-the-Northern-Extremity. This entry is in what may be the most recent section of this work, which may have been composed at any time between the third or fourth century B.C. and the third or fourth century A.D." [link]

The Chinese phoenix is not quite the same as the Greek bird, but it is also another mythical creature that is designed to portray peace as well as harmony in the world. This mythological bird is called fenghuang and is the leader of all birds and the second most important creature (after the dragon) in Chinese mythology. It is considered to be an embodiment of yin and yang.

In Japan, the phoenix is called Fushicho, literally "Not Dead Bird". In Japanese tattoos, the phoenix is often paired with the dragon, symbolizing Yin and Yang, female and male. Japan has even a Pokemon version of the phoenix, called Moltres   (more).



Phoenix Diptych

Phoenix Diptych © Copyright 2013 Scattergood-Moore

A Phoenix is a mythical bird with a 600-800 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises, reborn anew to live again. The new Phoenix is destined to live as long as its old self. It represents the life cycle: birth, growth, death and re-birth because from the ashes life arises anew often strengthened through reinvention. But this happens not just from reinvention of oneself but through innovation. And innovation helps to propel us forward...

Phoenix: Cape Cod Crow  (2005)

32" wide x 40" high
charcoal on board, oil on linen with tape & metal
private collection (AJ), Seattle, OR
copyright © 2013, Scattergood-Moore

The Phoenix has been an important image for me - appearing in many forms in my artwork - often helping me transcend some painful life experience. In Cape Cod Crow, the large circle is a charcoal drawing of a dead crow I found on the highway of Cape Cod, while driving my daughter, Anna, to summer camp. It represents the death of the mythical Phoenix and the suicide of my aunt who tragically died of suicide on Cape Cod when I was a teenager. The smaller circle (placed and attached to the drawing) is in oils and painted from life; it represents the newborn Phoenix and my more mature self, rising from the charcoal ashes . . .

Oiseau (Bird) 1928 (sand, grit, and oil paint) by Salvidor Dali. This "...painting was created in correspondence to a dream of Andre breton's in which he and some friends were swimming by the sea, they startled some birds and one of the groups shot at them, causing them to fall to the sea. but by the time they were washed to the shore they had changed into cow like mammal creatures. This painting follows the major themes of death, birth, life and metamorphosis; a strong element present in Surrealism."


Miss B

Miss B ~ The Incredble Dancing Bird
3:37 minute newsreel, circa 1928.
Collection of Scattergood-Moore

      Miss "B" ~ The Incredble Dancing Bird reached the height of popularity in 1927, when a New York jazz band called "The Bird-dog Five", recorded a novelty hit called "Ain't Miss"B" Heaven"; for Okay Records, which sold thousands of copies. In that year alone, at least six short films were made of her dance routines, including rare footage of her attempt at ballet, which some believe was the nail in the coffin of an already faltering career...

      The "Dancing Bird Figure" (marionette) is made from piano mechanisms, cabinet parts, wire, felt. The Pianistas were a very busy people, but they were also adept at utilizing their free time. During the long winter months, activities were created to pass the time and entertain.... Children would use whatever scraps of materials leftover to make their own figurines, dolls, games and other amusements... like the Dancing Bird Figure... During the turn of the 20th Century, at a road-side general store in New Jersey, Cyrus Braintree acquired the Dancing Bird Figure from a member of the Pianistas tribe... Braintree gave the bird figure the name: Miss "B", the Incredible Dancing Bird" and created one of the most popular Vaudeville shows of its time. With the help of a friend who was a bicycle repairman, he made a coin operated juke box outfitted with a mechanism that would cause the small bird to dance to the music...

      Tragically, Miss "B" was destroyed in a hotel fire on East 42nd Street in Manhattan in November of 1929, where Braintree, down on his luck, was trying to stage a comeback tour. Braintree survived the fire, but never recovered from the loss. He made several attempts to create new versions of the bird figure (of which the 10 inch tall "Dancing Bird Figure" is an example), but with no success...

Thanks to Michael Frassinelli for information on this vintage newsreel clip... Here's another version on YouTube with the soundtrack Ain't Misbehavin' played and sung by Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson.   (Quicktime Movie  |  Internet Archive:   mov)


dead birds by richard gardner
Dead Birds color, 83 min, 1964
(DER Films)



dead bird banner






Copyright © 2013     •   updated 07-29-2013