This is one of my favorite paintings; I even have a nice reproduction in my study. Famously epigraphed* in Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus (#), I find it somewhat ironic the MOMA generally doesn’t have it on display.
The MOMA does, however, have a bit of text to go alongside it on their website, text with which I take some minor umbrage. It reads the work neatively, seeing the image brimming with “looming menace,” the birds “shackled” to the crank.
I’ve always seen it as something of the opposite of menacing, as a statement on the inherently mechanical aspect not just of the natural world, but of human beings themselves. A hard truth for some, maybe, but one I find quite liberating to embrace …
*yes, I used “epigraph” as a verb and to describe an image