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Icarus, Empire State Building by Lewis Hine
Icarus, Empire State Building by Lewis Hine

Icarus, Empire State Building, 1930

Lewis Hine

A steelworker perches suspended on a cable during the construction of the Empire State Building, at the time the world’s tallest building. The worker grips the cable with his muscular limbs while embodying an effortless sense of grace, as if he’s flying above the distant city below. The coil of cable below his feet creates a visual counterbalance to the man’s body, giving the image a sense of balance and proportion. The photographer named the photo after Icarus in Greek mythology, who flew too close to the sun and perished. Yet this inspiring image seems to celebrate Icarus’ youthful daring and skill at flying, rather than his folly.

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