An early concept that was selected for further exploration of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra’s 2015 Festival Concert performance poster featuring Mahler’s Fifth Symphony was – Victory. Much of Mahler’s works are autobiographical in nature and the Fifth Symphony follows suit. Moving from darkness and despair to joy and love, ending in the celebration of victory over anguish and pain.
In depth research brought us to Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and the sculpture, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, located at the Louvre in Paris. Described as “the greatest masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture” by H.W. Janson, it is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world. Lacking access to the original sculpture, a resin model was purchased for the shoot. An exploration followed that started with purely formal studies in black and white, eventually shifting to color and coming back again to the classic black and white. The study was searching for the energy and emotional impact of rising up in victory from darkness.
It was decided that the images became too angelic and had lost their identity to the Greek goddess Nike. This solution was abandoned in favor of a more straightforward representation of the emotional journey that Mahler navigates in his fifth symphony, metamorphosis.