Benny Andrews (1930–2006) Narcissus, 1980 Etchings 29 × 19 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of the artist 1980.6.1-13

Narrated in Book III of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the mother of Narcissus solicited advice from the blind seer Tiresias, who told her that her son would live long, provided he never “discovered himself.” Inevitably, Narcissus stumbled across his reflection, fell in love, and succumbed to the pain of unrequited (self) love. In his visual interpretation of the myth, Andrews off-centers the figure of Narcissus, who strokes his tightly curled hair, and emphasizes the figure’s delicate limbs through a fine etching technique. At the edge of a dark pond grows a small patch of daffodils—the flower into which Narcissus was reborn. Here, Andrews depicts a moment of self-realization, and hints at an impending absorption with the self into unity with others and nature.