Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Philippe Petit & Jean-Michel Folon

Today I saw the film Man on Wire about the tightrope walker Philippe Petit. It was an incredibly moving, inspiring (and recently became Academy Award winning) documentary about this immensely creative man's fearless determination to live his dreams and to stay true to his passion. Of course this kind of determination doesn't happen without great sacrifices and the doco shows this in some very sensitive interviews with old friends of his...

I first learnt about Philippe Petit many years ago as a teenager thanks to my father having an art gallery. One of the artists he showed was the famous Belgian Jean-Michel Folon, who was a very successful artist of works on paper at the time my father showed him, and a true poet and humane man. I remember falling completely in love with his naïve, whimsical, dreamy style of drawing man in his urban environment and the dreams that go on in his head...

One silk-screened poster, in an exhibition my father had of Folon's work, featured a tiny man holding a beam walking on a line suspended between two buildings. I was too young in 1974 to recall the historic, audacious feat of Philippe Petit's walking between the almost complete Twin Towers of New York City, but the image on the poster stayed with me and captured something in my imagination! And then a while later I asked my father about it and he told me of his fellow compatriot, Frenchman Philippe Petit... So it was my absolute joy today to learn more about this figure I remember cutting out and pasting in my journal as a teenager and not really understanding at that stage.

for visuals from Jean-Michel Folon:

more on Philippe Petit:


  1. shucks!.. people need a steel heart to do something like that!.

  2. Hi Sasanka,
    Yes, it was so moving to see it in the film, and still incredible that he actually did it!

    Inspiring stuff!